Ron Fournier at The Detroit News:
[T]he Autism Alliance of Michigan has created an industry of autism support in 10 years. Michigan has gone from one of the worst states for someone with autism to live in, to one of the best.
A decade ago, there were 30 behavior therapists in Michigan who treated autism. Today, that number is in the thousands.
What changed everything was a law championed by the Autism Alliance of Michigan that requires insurance companies to cover behavioral therapy for autism. The insurance coverage attracted therapists and physicians to Michigan and created desperately needed avenues of support and treatment. Today, the average age of diagnosis and start of treatment in Michigan has dropped from age seven to age four. We know from research, the earlier a person can receive therapy and support the more likely they are to thrive long-term.Brian Calley at Bridge Michigan:
As lieutenant governor from 2011-2019, and a member of the Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) board of directors, I’ve proudly worked side-by-side with advocates, legislators and friends to change how people with autism are treated in Michigan.
In the last decade, we’ve made enormous progress. Because of the work of AAoM and autism advocates across our state, behavioral therapy for someone with autism is now covered by health insurance including Medicaid. This was a huge step in attracting therapists to Michigan to ensure those in need received early support. We also helped change someone with autism’s school experience by eliminating restraints and supporting inclusive teaching practices. This is a strong start, but we can do more.
People with autism are an amazing, untapped pool of talent that are patiently waiting for the right job. Waiting patiently for an open-minded employer is not enough. We can change this, but it involves widening our view of the right workforce. During my time as lieutenant governor, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from companies doing innovative things to recruit diverse talent. For example, Meijer has found great success by hiring people with autism by focusing on what an employee can do and excels at and tailoring jobs and responsibilities to fit the person. This is what everyone wants in the workplace: to be understood and have the opportunity to excel.