Local mom taking on State of Ohio in autism lawsuit
January 4, 2013 at 1:06 AM EST - Updated July 26 at 3:35 AM
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)
A local mom is taking on the State of Ohio in a battle over better care for her autistic son.
Federal judge Michael Barrett ruled the state must resume speech therapy and other care for Holly and Doug Young’s son Roman.
“It was relief, hope,” Holly told FOX19.
The program that offers the aid is the Help Me Grow early intervention program offered through the state Department of Health.
The Ohio Department of Health released the following statement to FOX19 Thursday:
Ohio’s Help Me Grow Early Intervention program coordinates a federally-defined scope of services based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children with a variety of developmental and medical needs who are under the age of three. The Ohio Department of Health, as the lead agency for HMG, is responsible for ensuring access to the 17 federally defined early intervention service types including services such as; speech/language therapy, physical therapy, nursing services and audiology services. Specific services are coordinated by HMG depending on what each child needs within the scope of the law.
The department maintains Applied Behavioral Analysis treatment is not a part of the Help Me Grow Program.
The Young’s son Roman is two and first began receiving care from the state in 2011. She says they stopped all treatment back in August and in December she and her husband filed a lawsuit in Federal Court.
Holly argues the state is required by federal mandate to provide more extensive treatment called “Applied Behavioral Analysis”. The judge has not yet ruled on whether the state is required to offer that treatment.
Holly is a police woman and her husband a firefighter. Even between their two salaries, however, they say they cannot come close to paying for the hours of therapy insurance will not cover for their son. Holly says with grants, loans, credit cards and caring friends they have been able to pay for about 15 hours of therapy a week. She says a health expert from the Cleveland Clinic believes her son should be receiving 46 hours a week.
Holly says this battle for more extensive care is the hardest thing she has ever done.
“When we started with Help Me Grow we were relieved, excited, happy someone was here to help us, help with Roman,” she said of the initial treatment.
In the beginning she says Roman was getting two hours of speech therapy a month. Knowing her son was at a critical age for behavioral modification, she began researching and increasingly felt that amount of treatment was not enough.
“The clock was ticking and we were losing minutes, and hours, and days, and months,” Holly said.
At that point, Young started fighting for her son to get applied behavioral analysis therapy.
“A lot of people don’t want to go up against the educational system or the health system,” she said. “It’s someone that they’re taught to respect and when they say ‘no’, no means no and so a lot of parents don’t fight it.”
Holly and her husband Doug did fight, however.
“It’s all about our son and everyone else’s son behind us or daughter that should be receiving this help, but isn’t receiving this help,” she said.
While the judge did order the earlier treatment to resume, Holly continues to wait for his decision on the additional treatment.
“They should be getting more than two hours of speech and when you ask them if they think that’s adequate they say ‘yes’,” she said. “But if you read any report on autism if you speak to any experts in autism they’ll tell you that clearly that’s not enough and that on top of it this ABA therapy is critical.”
Young argues early intervention is key not only for children, but for taxpayers long-term.
“If you get the child early on and you take care of the child there’s studies that show where it saves millions of dollars,” she said.
“We’re just out there to get what our son needs and is entitled to, nothing more,” she said. “There’s a difference between the best care and what the child is entitled to and should be receiving. And there are federal funds and federal monies that are already being funneled into these areas for these children.”
The judge is expected to make a ruling on the case within a week.
When Roman turns three this month his care then falls to the local school district.