Today I witnessed in awe a community of diverse people from across our state come together in unity, with standing room only. Although clapping is not typically the protocol for legislative meetings, the North Carolina Senate Health Committee Hearing on SB 1265, Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, was subjected to enthusiastic applause after every honest and highly personal testimony by a grandfather, three mothers, and two fathers. Our sponsor of the bill, Senator William Purcell, even joined in after a while!
After the hearing, Tre Benson, the devoted father from Lee County, echoed this same sentiment:
I thought those of us parents asked to speak would be able to keep it together, just the facts, cold cut and dry but when any of the speakers mentioned their child, personalized their point, we all instantly had those “walk a mile in my shoes” magically slipped onto our feet, we felt the heartache and love fill the room with tears. I saw doctors in their white coats with faces wet from the water streaming down their faces. It was a blessing to have seen strangers connect in such a way.
The Autism Society of North Carolina has been tirelessly working at the Legislature for this bill, coordinating with the autism community throughout the state, in addition to graciously hosting a lunch for all who attended afterward at their Raleigh office. Autism Speaks also deserves kudos for drawing families to the hearing and especially for Lorri Unumb, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel, who gave a pretty good impromptu class in what I’d call “Autism 101” in response to legislators’ questions about the differences between Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, Autistic Disorder, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
We are far from claiming a victory for autism health insurance reform. The Senate Health Committee did not vote today, as they are waiting for the fiscal note to be drawn up. Stay tuned to ASNC and Autism Speaks e-alerts. But from this day forward, know that when we work together, our loved ones benefit greatly. I was honored to witness it with my own tear-filled eyes.
Filed under: Advocacy, Legislative/Policy Issues | Tagged: Alison Davis, Autism Insurance Advocacy, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism Speaks, John Burress, Lorri Unumb, momof3au, SB 1265, Senator William Purcell, Tre Benson |