The parents of an autistic toddler are suing the state Department of Health and others, alleging denial of federally mandated treatment. The case could affect how other autistic children are cared for in the state.
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Cincinnati, accuses the state of discriminating against children with autism and their parents by failing to provide a type of intensive treatment known as applied behavioral analysis.
The lawsuit was filed by Robert and Holly Young, of Williamsburg, about 25 miles east of Cincinnati. The Youngs’ 2-year-old son, Roman, was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism a year and a half ago.
“It’s been a living nightmare,” said Holly Young, a Miami Township police officer. “It’s heart-wrenching to know what you need to give your son and you can’t provide it, and no one will help. And the people who are supposed to help seem to be turning their backs.”
Under the Individuals with Disabilities [Education] Act, states are required to provide early-intervention services for children with autism, a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties communicating, emotional detachment and excessively rigid or repetitive behavior, among other symptoms. States get federal money to provide the treatment, with the goal of turning children with autism into self-sufficient adults who won’t have to depend on public resources.The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich addressed the importance of early intervention in autism cases Friday when he said it soon will be required in state employee health insurance plans, private insurance plans and insurance sold through the upcoming federal insurance exchanges.
"When we have the chance to do the right thing, we better do it," Kasich said. "Helping kids with autism get the services they need, and helping their parents get the financial lifeline of insurance coverage, that's something I support."
Kasich's plan, however, would not make autism services mandatory until 2014, which Ganulin said is too late to get Roman the immediate help he needs.
He said the federal lawsuit is an attempt to get help now, while the treatment still has the best chance to do the most good. Judge Michael Barrett will hear arguments Jan. 2 about whether he should require the state to take action.
The lawsuit says the state's handling of Roman's case violates his constitutional rights and several federal laws covering the care and treatment of people with disabilities.
Young said she went to court because she was out of options. She said she's seen first-hand what intensive therapy can do for her son, and she knows he's suffering without it.
"I can't afford to give him what he needs," she said. "It's excruciating for me.