Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Perspective: Redefining Autism Comes at a Cost

Another opinion. This one by Ilyse Levine-Kanji, a school committee member in Westborough, Mass. and a former employment discrimination lawyer. Her son, Sam, has autism.

Ilyse Levine-Kanji and her son, Sam
As a school committee member, I recognize how costly services for autism are, and I understand the current urge to more narrowly define autism. As a parent of a child with autism, I also know that the costly supports my son Sam has received – from his school, through our insurance company, and from our own pocket – have helped him immeasurably .
If you saw Sam, now 13, on the street, you would know immediately that he is unlike most children. Sam makes little eye contact; can “flap” his arms or make other disconcerting movements; speaks in an unnaturally loud, high-pitched sing-song voice; and has frequent loud bursts of laughter about things evident only to him. Throughout his school day, Sam requires the constant presence of a trained adult to painstakingly teach him information, from academics to reading social cues to following societal norms of behavior. Sam’s need for constant supervision continues once he gets home from school.

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