Monday, January 16, 2006

A Celebrity Who Cares About Autism

There was a celebrity in our midst at the January 12th hearing. Perry Major of Greenville brought his friend Edwin McCain, who cares deeply about children's issues. Edwin listened to all of the testimony and never sought any special recognition for attending. Further, he wrote the following letter a few days after the hearing. Thanks, Edwin, for taking the time to care and to do something about it.

To all of our friends in South Carolina,

A friend of mine whose son is autistic asked me if I would go with him to a state senate subcommittee hearing this week. This hearing is about "Ryan's Law", a bill to require insurance companies to cover autism treatments.

Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the US.

Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. Autism is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

The good news is that Autism is treatable. With early intervention involving applied behavioral analysis therapy (ABA) there has been a 44 percent success rate in mainstreaming autistic kids back to their original grade levels with their peers. These kids become indistinguishable from other typical kids and continue without the need of further therapy. It should be noted that in the cases where autistic kids can't be placed back in the same class, the progress that they make with ABA therapy is remarkable. Currently there is no health insurance coverage offered for treatment of any autism spectrum disorders in SC.

Out of pocket expenses for ABA treatments can range from $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the city. Obviously that far exceeds most families' ability to help their children. These kids receive little or no treatment and eventually become wards of the state instead of functioning members of society. This practice puts a great burden on the economic welfare of our state systems. Currently Georgia, Texas, Indiana, New Hampshire, and California mandate coverage for ASD disorders.

If you are a resident of South Carolina, please go to, click on the link that says "find my legislator" and please call your senator and representative and let them know that you are interested in their position on Senate Bill #958 "Ryan's Law" or House Bill #4351.

I was moved by how many people I recognized at this hearing who have autistic children. I was also impressed by how many of the families had a success story involving ABA. I am very passionate about children's causes but I also realize that hope sometimes clouds the judgement of parents who would do anything for their kids. In the past there have been many questionable therapies involving autism and other developmental challenges. When I got home I spoke with my father who is a retired pediatrician. He helped me do some research on ABA therapy. All of the response we received from the doctors we called about ABA therapy was overwhelmingly positive. ABA therapy works if the kids can get the help early and often. The only way to insure that this happens is to cover the treatment with health insurance. Please help us get the attention of our legislators so that these kids can get the help they deserve.

Thank you for taking this time,

Edwin Mc Cain


Anonymous Derrick Howle (Lucas Howle) said...

Thanks Edwin for your support! My son, Lucas,who is autistic, happened to be with me in Downtown Greenville when you sang at the Event in which Lance Armstrong appeared in support of Cancer Research. He was having a hard time in the crowd and had started to bang his head on the pavement and we were going to leave until you started singing. Music is what he turns to when he is stressed and he calmed down immediately and listened attentively until you finished. Your support of our efforts to pass this Bill is appreciated more thazn you can imagine. God Bless You!

Derrick Howle
Greenville, SC

4:43 PM  

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