Today, the Indiana ACT for Families coalition’s Family Friday spotlight is Amber Redinger from Elkhart, Indiana. Amber’s son was six years old when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Similar to many parents of children with autism, Amber had a challenging path to her son receiving an autism diagnosis. Like so many families before her, Amber had to take her son to countless appointments, searching for answers, before her son was able to get a proper diagnosis. “I waited for over a year for my son to even be seen for a diagnosis,” said Amber. “He has other disabilities, and we were left jumping from waitlist to waitlist to even figure out his diagnosis.” This frustrating process meant that her son spent important early years unable to access the services he needed.
Due to this long delay, it was highly important that Amber’s son was able to begin therapy quickly. Thankfully, Journey’s Autism Center had just opened a new location and Amber did not have to wait on a long waitlist to access ABA therapy.
Once Amber’s son was able to access ABA therapy, their world was completely changed. “ABA therapy was literally the best decision I’ve made in my life,” said Amber. “If my son didn’t have ABA, I worry he would be left almost his whole life, with nobody encouraging him or interacting with him the way ABA therapy does.”
After beginning ABA therapy, Amber has started to see her son come out of his shell. While he has only been enrolled for a short period of time, she has already seen significant changes in his behavior and communication skills. “He’s only been there for a short time, and it’s so much better for him overall,” said Amber. “He’s more energetic and happier, and he explores far more and communicates through touch now.”
Amber has also witnessed the impact that her son’s ABA therapists have had on her son’s short, but impressive growth and development. Each day, his therapists incorporate something new, whether that’s walks with her son and his walker, or helping him find new ways to communicate. “I feel like this past six months has probably been the best six months for my entire family,” said Amber. “I can’t overstate the benefits of ABA therapy and what it has done for my son and my family.”
“Cuts Would Be Devastating”
Without ABA therapy, Amber wouldn’t know where to turn. She’s still learning from her son’s therapy team how to help care for her son the way they are trained to. With the Holcomb administration currently undergoing a Medicaid reimbursement rate review for ABA therapy, families like Amber’s are left questioning what they would do if funding for their children’s care is suddenly taken away.
Earlier this month, Amber sent letters to her legislators and the Governor asking them to consider the wide-ranging implications that a rate cut would have on Hoosier families, like hers, who depend on this care for their children’s livelihoods. “Cutting funds for autism services would be devastating to my son’s future,” said Amber. “If these services were just taken away, my family would not know where to turn.”
Thousands of families across the state depend on the ABA therapy services to support their children’s needs. If Governor Holcomb and his administration carry out cuts to Medicaid funding, waitlists will grow, centers could close, and families very likely could be forced to find care elsewhere.
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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