Minnesota Mom Fights to Expand Federal Funds

michigan autism legislation

A Somali immigrant, Idil Abdull is one of the founders of the Somali American Autism Foundation in Minneapolis, MN. She is also the mother of a 12-year-old with autism spectrum disorder.

When her son Abdullahi was diagnosed, she became determined to enroll him in any and all treatments available. At first, the boy started with speech and occupational therapy. He later began applied behavioral analysis therapy. Unfortunately, after a year of treatment, Abdull saw little improvement in her son’s condition. She had a lot questions about ASD and the treatments available but lacked the proper resources and funds.

Since 2010, Abdull has been diligently working to broaden health care resources not only for herself, but for other low income families as well. She believes that early intervention treatments are necessary and should be available for all children with a developmental disability.

For the past 5 years, Abdull has made over 50 trips to Minnesota State Capitol with her red and blue hijabs. There were so many visits that she was soon nicknamed the “Autism Lady.” She spoke to numerous legislators and health and human service committees to raise awareness and fight for access to treatment for everyone.

She continuously asked state officials if therapies that her son needs are covered through Medical Assistance. They were then forced to explain that these services were only available to those who could afford to pay for them. Ultimately, coverage was being denied to those who needed it the most.

But her efforts did not go to waste. Minnesota is now one of the first states to provide their residents with intensive one-on-one therapies designed to improve language and social skills. The federal government has given 1 million to fund these treatments that were typically only available for the wealthy. One of the therapies now covered is applied behavioral analysis (ABA) which can cost about $100,000 a year. ABA has been shown to help autistic children manage impulsive behaviors through simple tasks and repetition.

Effective July 1, 2015, poor Minnesotan families will now be able to enroll in programs that provide needed coverage for their children. It is predicted to help hundreds of low-income families throughout the state that are on Medical Assistance. Human Services Commissioner, Lucinda Jesson, has stated that she hopes this will help children get diagnosed sooner, enroll in services earlier, and, hopefully, change the future of the children in their community.

Written by Raiza Belarmino

This entry was posted in Autism Action Alerts, Autism Advocacy, Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Education, Autism in the Family, Autism Media Coverage, Autism News, Public Policy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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