After this week’s readings I was acutely aware of society’s early view of those struggling with Autism. After watching “Rain Man” in class and then reading Chapter 9 of Silberman’s text, there was a blatant misunderstanding of people with autism versus those with schizophrenia and other psychological diseases. Moreover, most people classified those with autism as simply being dumb or lacking cognitive function. Silberman’s Chapter 9 really opened my eyes as to how people with autism were and still are treated. Bill was completely dehumanized by others, even his own mother who was afraid of the stigma that would be brought upon her family.
Once autism was starting to be recognized, much thanks to “Rain Man”, in Chapter 10 Silberman discusses the evolution of the diagnostic procedures. Among his information on diagnostic procedures he includes a piece of legislature called “IDEA”. This sparked my curiosity as to what has been currently developing in legislation with the spiked rates of diagnoses and awareness compared to the pre-“Rain Man” era. Upon my findings I believe that legislation, while there is a lot more work to do, is slowly heading in the right direction.
Michigan was the 30th state to enact Autism Insurance Reform on April 18th, 2012. This then allowed for the Autism Coverage Reimbursement Act, which was enacted to help cover high costs that insurers would be forced to pay (Autism Speaks).
Another feat was accomplished when in 2014 a student with autism was granted the use of a service dog in school. The case went to the Department of Justice after 6 months of the student’s mother complying with requests of extensive paperwork and was still denied because the school believed in the original use of a service dog to be exclusive with those with physical impairments such as blindness, etc. The DOJ found the school’s ruling to be in direct violation with Americans with Disabilities Act (Student With Autism Gains Legal Win To Use Service Dog).
And then in 2015, Obama signed the ABLE Act, which, “allows for tax-free savings accounts to help individuals and families cover lifetime disability expenses” (NY Times Highlights ABLE Act for Disability Savings). Meanwhile in Michigan, a 5.5 million dollar surplus from an Autism Fund allowed some funding to go to universities to, “train health workers to diagnose and treat individuals diagnosed with autism” (Michigan Redirects $5.5 Million Surplus From Untapped Autism Fund). This bill also allows for some money to be directed to provide resources for families dealing with autism.
I believe these legislative events to be a reflection of the growing rate of Americans who are concerned and aware of autism.