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Autism (2008)

Background

Parents of young children today are facing a heightened concern in the area of child development, the pervasive condition of developmental delays in young children commonly labeled as Autism, or more accurately the Autism Spectrum. As yet, the definitive causes of Autism or the Autism Spectrum remain open to speculation, but the latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 1 in every 150 children born today fits the Autism Spectrum.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes problems with social interaction and communication capabilities. Symptoms usually manifest themselves before the age of three; however because of the complexity of the disability, the range of developmental delays now characterized as being in the Autism Spectrum can go undiagnosed and untreated well into school age.

Since the disability is a developmental disorder, it cannot be cured but it can be managed with timely and appropriate interventions that can sustain the child and permit the child to function comfortably. This intervention is costly. A key element of the intervention is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) which identifies and outlines a constellation of therapies necessary for each affected child.

In many cases, ABA has been ineligible for coverage by private insurance health care providers, thereby causing parents to take on extraordinary financial costs that can be as high as $50,000 per year per child. This exclusionary behavior by private health insurers perpetrates a gross injustice to children and parents who in good faith pay their insurance premiums. As Pirkei Avot tells us, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” Financial and psychological relief for parents of children with Autism is an imperative we must engage.

Resolution

WHEREAS twelve states, at the present time have passed legislation mandating that private insurers begin treating Autism as the significant illness that it is,

WHEREAS Autism and the Autism Spectrum affect children of all ethnic, religious, and socio-economic levels, and

WHEREAS the children of the Jewish community as well, are affected and their parents need relief from these onerous financial burdens,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Women’s League Conservative Judaism:

  1. encourage region and sisterhood leaders to offer informational programs to their members, particularly parents and grandparents of young children, to become knowledgeable about the Autism Spectrum
  2. urges synagogues that maintain pre-school or tot-care programs to offer their teachers training in identifying symptoms of developmental delays; and
  3. encourages sisterhood leaders to learn where legislation exists in their respective states and know the provisions required by the legislation to ascertain insurance rights due parents of affected children.