Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the U.S. On average, it costs a family 60,000 dollars a year.
The North Dakota Department of Human Services offers an Autism Spectrum Disorder waiver to families who qualify.
As time nears for renewal of federal funding, the department is asking the public to voice their opinions.
Tricia Zinke and her son, Brody, spend a lot of one-on-one time together.
When Brody was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder four years ago, Zinke enrolled in services through the Department of Human Services.
Zinke explains, “We’ve been on the waiver now over three years, and he is just a completely different child. I don’t really know what we would have done without it.”
The service management portion of the waiver allows Brody to visit places like Poppy’s Promise, where he can learn and socialize in a safe environment.
There are quite a few proposed changes, so I’ve highlighted a couple here:
Children would no longer have to be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist to be covered.
Instead, diagnosis would be accepted from a longer list of doctors, practitioners and counselors.
Secondly, the number of service visits for families is decreasing from every 90 days to twice a year with the proposed changes.
In her comments, Zinke says the most important thing would be to extend the waiver past age 12.
She explains, “That’s kind of a key time for development in life, is when you start hitting those teenage years.”
Right now, in North Dakota, enrollment is limited to 96 children.
Poppy’s Promise Executive Director, Lorena Poppe says, “That really is pretty small as far as the number, when you consider the overall prevalence rate. One in 59 kids is born with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Zinke adds, “The state is a very large place and Autism is getting more and more common.”
Poppe says the current waiver is a great start, and hopes the public comments will bring in necessary change.
If you want your voice to be heard in the public comments, follow the link below to view the waiver: www.nd.gov/dhs/autism/docs/renewal-application-asd-waiver-thru-age-11.pdf.
Comments can be submitted by emailing email@example.com, calling 701-328-8912 or 800-755-2604 or faxing 701-328-1544. Comments can also be sent to the North Dakota Department of Human Services Medical Services Division, Attn: Autism, 600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 325, Bismarck, N.D. 58505-0250.
The deadline to review the waiver is Wednesday July 18th.