Every Friday, the Indiana ACT for Families coalition will spotlight a family support member who is helping to care for a loved one with autism.
Our first Family Friday spotlight is Christina Snider, a special education teacher from Goshen and mother to three boys, including one son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Christina’s 11-year-old son was first diagnosed with autism at the age of two. By the time he was three, her son had turned non-verbal. Christina thought that keeping her son enrolled in the local school, combined with her special education expertise, would be beneficial for her son who could interact with and learn from his peers.
However, her son was struggling to become toilet trained, a problem that posed a challenge when finding appropriate aftercare for her son. “I had worked on toilet-training my son for years and he just wasn’t picking it up,” said Christina. She found herself frequently devoting more and more time to care for her son, who was showing little to no improvement with the skills they were working so hard to teach him.
Then, she found Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy – a scientifically validated approach to help build useful learning and behavioral skills for children with autism – and her world was changed. “Just having ABA therapy to have the full-time support to work on those skills helped him stay dry for the day.”
“It Takes A Whole Family”
When discussing the demands for raising her son Christina said, “It takes a whole family. [For example,] my oldest drives him to his therapy on the way to school and then I pick him up afterwards.”
Christina said her family has seen numerous improvements in her son’s social skills, as well as decreased urge to elope – when a child with autism wanders away from caregivers or secure locations. “The ABA center is the first place I have taken him where they completely understand him. I am so glad that we tried ABA.”
ABA Monday thru Friday
Currently, her son attends ABA therapy Monday through Friday, but with staffing shortages, her son has missed so many days. “With more Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts, I can’t imagine how that will impact his access to ABA therapy,” said Christina. “A rate cut to Medicaid reimbursement will reduce quality healthcare for the most vulnerable and at-risk children.”
READ 📚: You can learn more about Christina Snider’s story in The Herald Bulletin where she explained how ABA therapy allows her to continue working as a special education teacher.
Christina Knocks on Statehouse Doors
Christina recently attended the coalition’s joint Advocacy Day with the Indiana Providers of Effective Autism Treatment (InPEAT). Advocacy Day was a chance for ABA providers, therapists, autism advocacy groups, and parents, like Christina, to emphasize the impact that a Medicaid reimbursement rate cut would have on the access and quality of autism care in the state.
“A rate cut to Medicaid reimbursement will reduce quality healthcare for the most vulnerable and at-risk children” – Christina Snider
Christina joined other coalition members to speak with state representatives about her family’s story with autism and advocate for their support for autism services.
She had the opportunity to meet with Representative Doug Miller (District 48), Representative Dale DeVon (District 5) and Governor Holcomb’s Legislative Director Tyler Ness.
About the day Christina said, “Advocacy Day allowed me to share my family’s ABA story and speak to Senators and Representatives about the impact that autism therapy services have had on my son’s life and independence, and how a rate cut would jeopardize these services.”
Indiana ACT for Families is a broad coalition of Hoosier families, ABA therapists, ABA therapy providers, and stakeholders, including The Arc of Indiana and other advocacy groups, working to advocate in support of promoting access to high quality ABA therapy services in Indiana. For more information, please visit www.IndianaACT4Families.com.
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