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West Virginia: Many of the 6,000 children with autism in WV not getting services

Mar 5 2020, Charleston (WV) Daily Mail: Susan Johnson: Dearth of autism services leads mother to open nonprofit https://www.wvgazettemail.com/dailymailwv/daily_mail_commentary/susan-johnson-dearth-of-autism-services-leads-mother-to-open/article_07ee9b63-72b0-5594-953a-79a46e6a47fc.html Last week, the Daily Mail WV reported on yet another bill in the West Virginia legislature that is already having the effect of driving young families to other states. House Bill 4723 would have placed applied behavior analysts into the West Virginia student loan forgiveness program. An estimated 6,000 children are affected by autism in our state. This bill would have attracted the kind of professionals children like Ben Isaiah need. Amanda Herbine moved to Richwood with her 5-year-old son, Benjamin Isaiah, in spring of last year from Hershey, Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, Ben received speech, occupational therapy, developmental and behavior health in-home services. “We really took those services for granted,” his mother explained. According to Amanda, when her son was in any setting where there were more than four or five people, Benjamin would have a sensory overload; he would fall to the floor kicking and screaming. The state of Pennsylvania assigned to Ben a therapeutic support staff worker for behavior health…. When Amanda moved to West Virginia, she just assumed Benjamin’s services would continue here. That wasn’t the case. “We came with his diagnosis, medical records, therapeutic recommendation and his IEP (individualized education program). We established him a pediatrician immediately, but as far as his therapeutic services, we were forced to drive several hours every week so he could attend. No in-home services, No Gym Jam services, no YMCA services.” So Amanda started do her own research. “I quickly realized the desperate need of these services in our area,” she said…. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the other 6,000 children with autism in West Virginia, many of whom are not receiving services. So Amanda went from being a mother of an autistic child to an advocate for all autistic children….