Health Insurance Benefits Now Expand Access to Autistic Individuals

 Iowans and their loved ones who are impacted by an autism-spectrum disorder have something to celebrate during Autism Awareness Month this month. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill that will expand access to a valuable treatment for people with autism.

An estimated one in 68 children has an autism diagnosis, and Kris Steinmetz, executive director of the Autism Society of Iowa, said early intervention is important to help them address language deficits, social delays, sensory sensitivities and other challenges. 

The measure applies to many employer-provided health-insurance policies. Steinmetz said Iowa also is fortunate to have Early Access and the Regional Autism Program, which provide and coordinate needed services and resources and offer supports for kids’ families and providers.

While early intervention is a cornerstone for development, she said there also comes a time when those impacted by autism should start thinking about their future and how they will live as part of the community. As soon as a student with autism turns 14, she said, a transitional plan should be in place that could include the introduction of vocational skills.

Steinmetz said agencies and organizations around Iowa offer vocational and educational training for individuals on the autism spectrum. That includes the University of Iowa’s REACH Program, which is a transition program to help students with intellectual, cognitive and learning disabilities become independent and engaged members of the community.

The text of the bill, House File 215, is online at legis.iowa.gov.

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