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Autism awareness on rise, but families still face heavy financial burden

One year after its launch, the Autism Society says awareness is on the rise in Cayman.

But one mother says families like hers still face a heavy financial burden when a child is diagnosed on the Autism spectrum.

Mother of two Angela Sevilla wouldn’t change a thing about her six-year-old son Mason.

“He is a beautiful person and I would never change him for anything, I would only want to change the world to understand him a little bit better,” said Ms. Sevilla, one of our valued co-workers at Hurley’s Media.

She said once her son was diagnosed with Autism, he was put on an expensive monthly treatment plan.

“We can’t afford that that $4000 to 5000 a month, that’s a whole salary,” said Ms. Sevilla.

After three separate insurers declined the therapies her son requires, she turned to the Needs Assessment Unit. After meeting eligibility requirements, her son was granted CINICO insurance.

Mason is currently enrolled at the Lighthouse School.

“CINICO insurance does cover people on the spectrum, any kind of therapy for people on the spectrum, but as you know with CINICO it is very difficult to get,” said Ms. Sevilla. “You have to go through a long process, prove how much you make, all of your expenses, your life becomes an open book to them.”

“There is a little bit more insurance coverage now than there was in the very recent past, but there still is a very long road to go and a lot of financial burden for families,” said Melanie Coffey of the Special Needs Foundation, which works in close concert with the Autism Society.

Ms. Coffey said along with awareness, resource availability has expanded in recent years.

“There are more and more different service providers who are offering ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, but again they’re often waiting lists and it is not always an easy thing to access for families whether it be financially or actual availability for therapists,” said Ms. Coffey.

Ms. Sevilla agreed that things are incrementally improving for families like hers but more must be done.

“I believe that for us to really feel a difference, insurance companies need to be on our side as well here on the island,” she said.

The Autism Society says inclusion is at the heart of helping drive Autism awareness.

The Autism Society is promoting acceptance Saturday afternoon (11 May) at Public Beach with an inclusive family fun day.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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