Meet The Saleys
Barry & Tina Saley of Wooster are the parents of two incredible young boys. One of which, Noah (7), happens to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Barry is the Fire Chief for the City of Wooster, and Tina works in Special Education.
"When our son Noah was diagnosed with autism, to say our world was completely turned upside is a gross understatement. Every dream and hope we had for our son became a giant question mark. Would he ever speak? Would he ever develop meaningful relationships outside of his family? Would he be able to learn? Would he ever know any form of independence? These were all assumptions to us before his diagnosis. It was somewhat comforting to know that we were already active in speech and occupational therapy and had a great support team that we felt comfortable with." - Barry Saley
Denial of Therapy Services
"Noah's intervention plan was going well until our insurance company began to deny all claims. The large group insurance plans that our employers offer, exclude the treatment of Autism in any way, as a plan exemption. The same child who was receiving the same services now had a label. With that label, came complete denial of therapy services. We became our son’s only hope, as even taking him to see the Developmental Pediatrician again would be considered treatment of Autism, and would not be covered. We tried to find local ABA therapy groups, but we initially found that it was completely outside of our reach financially. My wife and I have great jobs so we began to question: if we can’t afford therapy out-of-pocket, what about those children with autism who aren’t as fortunate?" - Barry Saley
Public School vs. Therapy
"Some people feel that these intervention services are the responsibility of a school district, and they are right. Public schools do need to provide many of these services in order to help a child access the free and appropriate public education that they are entitled. However, they are not in any way capable of providing 40 hours of physician-recommended ABA therapy. No school district ever will be able to." - Barry Saley
Discrimination Beyond Treatment
"About a year ago I took both of my children for an eye exam. One has autism, one does not. They sat in the same room. They had exactly the same exam. Because he was diagnosed before we went to this eye doctor for a required exam and autism was in his chart, they coded Noah's eye exam as "treatment of autism". The insurance company paid for my typically developing son, and not for my son who has autism. It was exactly the same eye exam and had absolutely nothing to do with his autism diagnosis. We ended up having to dispute the claim with the insurance company." - Tina Saley
Ohio vs. Other States
Since 2001, 48 states have begun requiring some insurance plans to cover ABA for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. But the rules are all different, making for uneven coverage across states. It's estimated that only 36 percent of Americans have access to autism coverage. Only California, Indiana, Massachusetts and Minnesota require the plans to cover the therapy without any limits on age, cost or frequency.
"We considered leaving the family and friends that we love so much, in order to live in a state that would not discriminate against our son. We decided not to pursue moving because we strongly feel that having the support of local family and friends is critical when dealing with the hand our son has been dealt with. We also recognized how difficult it was to establish the “village” of individuals who were helping our son and didn’t want to have to do it again, even if the financial burden would be lifted significantly." - Barry Saley
ACT NOW and take a stand against insurance policy discrimination for autism spectrum disorders in Ohio
Visit our advocacy page to learn more about important state policy issues, and ways to take meaningful action! Let's advocate for families affected by autism, like the Saleys, during National Autism Awareness Month and throughout the year!