Parents of kids with autism push lawmakers for more coverage - CBS46 News

Parents of kids with autism push lawmakers for more coverage

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ALMA, GA (CBS46/AP) -

Jorge Ashe led his mom on a walk through the state capitol.

"A few short years ago, that would have been disastrous," said Leah Ashe, Jorge's mother.

Jorge is a 9-year-old who lives with autism.

Ashe said when her son was first diagnosed she had little hope he would lead a normal life.

"I was told he would never walk or talk. My first worry was for his future," Ashe said.

Just going to school is a struggle.

"Recess and lunch are the worst parts of the day for a child who can't stand loud noises, can't stand chaos, has difficulty finding his place in the world," Ashe said.

After years of therapy, Jorge now reads at his third-grade level and plays football. But his gains came at a huge cost.

"Tens of thousands of dollars," Ashe said.

Georgia is one of more than a dozen states that do not require insurers to cover autism treatment.

"It is absolutely crippling for a family," said Melissa Solares, whose 6-year-old son, Arturo, lives with autism as well.

Solares said most parents cannot afford to pay out of pocket for therapy.

"We've drained our savings. We've gone into debt," Solares said. "A teacher, a fireman, a policeman, they can't access treatment because the cost is prohibitive."

Solares and Ashe were among a group of parents who came to the Capitol Tuesday to urge lawmakers to pass Ava's Law, a bill would require insurance companies to cover treatment for kids with autism.

"If this law passes, it will give children access to much needed treatment so they can get better," said State Sen. John Albers, (R) Roswell, said.

Ashe said she and other parents have to jump through too many hoops just to get their kids the help they need.

"It is absolutely needed," Ashe said. "The fact is there are just too many children out there who need these services."

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