Unlike the average people who go by the tradition, ready to settle down to any extent against life’s odds, there are the rare few who look ahead of a prevailing challenge and use problems to revolutionize a social change. This distinct quality is what separates them out of the crowd and brings them in the news as idols of pioneering initiatives. We can go on reading real life stories of such people, but the highlight of our inspirational story is such a woman who has successfully brought about a complete shift in the way Autism is looked at. This is about Molly Whalen, whose efforts forced legislation to accept coverage as part of health insurance plans.
Molly Whalen and her family are a resident of Washington, D.C. for more than two decades. Eleven years back, when her elder child was detected an autism patient, there was little know how available and subsequently to the parents’ misery, pediatricians had fewer details to come up with a treatment methodology. This was actually a terrible time in D.C. for want of timely evaluations; this only meant delayed therapies and unresponsive school managements who asked Molly and her husband if they had a lawyer so as to enroll their elder one at school. The outcome was quite obvious – all such D.C. families with children needing special care either had to rely upon their own expense and arrangements, or to live with the horrifying situation.
Just as every parent ready to stretch out for their children (on spectrum), Molly and her husband did everything they could and they managed for the early intervention system at their own expense and resources. As their personal insurance covered only OT and SLT and that too with limited sessions, they had to bear an enormous amount out of pocket every year on account of this.
This was actually the time when Molly was thinking about all those families or parents in D.C. who were economically underprivileged, those single mothers, those couples whose first priority was the grocery and rent, and many others who were inadequately educated to speak about it. Panicked with the tough situation, she was foreseeing many children leading a hampered life for their untreated autism.
This is when she decided to bring the issue to legislation’s notice and not surprisingly, the path ahead was not less challenging either. The couple was even advised to relocate out of D.C., as they would find a better resort to this and without fighting for it! Molly reinstates firmly, “I was not ready to leave mine and my husband’s home, and the place where we started our family. What I was facing was a failure of city government and insurance systems. It was the Federal law which needs a change for better so as to better health insurance and provide quality healthcare to every citizen. So fighting for it was the only alternate for us.”
Molly’s efforts have brought this issue to fore and there would soon be legislation in which extensive coverage of autism will be mandatory for all health insurance plans offered in the District. Voting for it by the D.C. Council was scheduled on June 4th and this is now a welcome addition in the Health Benefit Exchange policy. Consequently, all the children withASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder will get adequate care and it will be equally soothing for the guardians as medication becomes affordable and approachable.