In my mind I see thousands of our uniformed service men and women, their spouses, and our children with autism saluting YOU Congressman Joseph Sestak! Congressman Sestak, you are a great American!
For the past (almost) three years, 95% of our military dependant children with autism have gone without any treatment for their autism spectrum disorder due to the failures of the TRICARE Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) program. This program segregated our children’s treatment and defined teaching our children the most basic living skills as special education. ECHO policy also put an arbitrary monthly dollar amount cap of $2,500 on our children’s treatment.
There are a growing number of military parents and spouses who have been advocating long and hard for change to TRICARE ECHO policies. Our national autism organizations have embraced and strongly support our work. We thank you all! You too, are great Americans!
And now, Congressman Sestak has embraced this issue. The autism treatment issue. Congressman Sestak has been meeting with the Armed Services Committee and with regard to the specific issue of raising the monthly dollar cap placed on our children’s treatment for autism; he has met opposition. Due to the opposition he has faced, on Tuesday, May 20, 2008, Congressman Sestak will introduce an Amendment to HR 5658 – National Defense Authorization Act ’09 (NDAA). This Amendment will increase funding of autism treatment (specifically behavior intervention services based on ABA principals) from $2,500 a month to $5,000 a month.
This and future changes to TRICARE’s ECHO policies, we are advocating for, are extremely important as TRICARE policies are federal policies. The autism community (not just military) needs to RALLY! And support Congressman Sestak’s actions by way of letter writing (there is a sample letterHERE) and faxing to your state’s federal Senators, Congressmen, and Congresswomen. To locate your state’s federal legislator contact information you can goHERE. Or you can sign ASA’s online petitionHERE. Do one or do all!
Congressman Sestak, we have all been doing the happy dance because of the action you are taking on behalf of our children’s lack of treatment for autism. We have been doing the happy dance because you have stood up to the opposition we and our children with autism have faced for years to get their treatment fully covered. We are doing the happy dance because we have a glimmer of hope that our children are going finally get effective treatment that they need and deserve. Children with autism can recover and every single child with autism deserves that opportunity!
The truth will always prevail, and it is love of truth that makes this happen. The truth and how love makes that happen was expressed best by my great-great-great uncle,
“For it is a fire that kindling its first embers in the narrow nook of a private bosom, caught from a wandering spark out of another private heart, glows and enlarges until it warms and beams upon the multitudes of men and women, upon the universal heart of all, and so lights up the whole world and all nature with its generous flames.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is what is happening in the autism community. Love of the truth is glowing and enlarging. And it is helping our children.
When my husband, SrA David G. Warner II and I married in 1997, the above quote was read (at our request) during our wedding ceremony.
In order to be part the fire kindling, you have to love truth.
As my dear friend Karen and our beloved Marine Corps say, Semper Fi!