At Crain's Detroit Business, Ron Fournier writes about the Autism Alliance of Michigan and its "navigators." who answer the calls of autistic people and caregivers.
Navigators consult in-house specialists in autism education, clinical treatment, insurance and adult services. They refer callers to the cornucopia of uneven services available to people on the spectrum. Their notes go into a database, and they follow up on the callers for weeks, months or years — whatever is necessary.Michigan legislators might cut state support for the program.
While I have a son with autism and I'm on the Autism Alliance board, this issue is bigger than my personal biases. According to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a Republican who has a daughter on the autism spectrum, the GOP legislation would jeopardize a variety of autism programs, as well as state services that improve mental health, combat child lead poisoning, give disabled people opportunities to live independently and that would provide caretakers a small raise.
Calley likes tax cuts and smaller budgets as much as the next Republican, but he considers these proposals to be short-sighted and fiscally foolish. It costs the state far less to give people with disabilities the tools they need to seek some measure of independence, Calley said, than it does to provide for them for life.
"If we get it right early, the long-term outcomes are better and more efficient. In other words, cheaper," Calley told me in a telephone interview.A consistent theme in autism policy is very simple: pay now, or pay later.