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Thursday, November 3, 2011

So Your 17 Year Old Son With Aspergers Wants to Drive a Car; Applied Behavior Analysis to be Covered by Insurance in NY State; Airway Abnormalities May Point To Autism; Those 7 Important Things Every Parent Should Know; Parents You Have Legal Rights

"I may have been born different and misunderstood from birth, but I know there is a place for me, somewhere in the universe."---Alyson Bradley

Learning To Drive A Car

Your 17 year old son with Aspergers wants to learn how to drive a car. Where do you start?

Learning to drive, as every driver knows, takes a unique set of skills. The demands of learning to drive with someone with Aspergers take on added dimension. The sensory demands alone make learning to drive a challenge for any young person. As someone who has faced this issue on the professional level, allow me to offer some suggestions:

  • Bring the issue up to your child's interdisciplinary team. Your child will need to be assessed by the team. The IDT's assessment should include, but not be limited to, fine and gross motor skills, a hearing assessment, and a visual assessment. In other words, the team should determine if your child has the ability to drive a vehicle.
  • If the IDT determines your child is ready to take driving lessons, it's time to find a qualified driving instructor or driving school. Check to see if your school offers driver's training (I would discourage any family member to try to teach driving. Leave this to the professionals).
  • Apply for a driver's permit, depending on the state in which you reside.
  • It's important the driving instructor or school know about Aspergers even if you have to teach them (unless, of course, you are fortunate to find an instructor or school that specializes in teaching people with Aspergers). For example, the instructor will also need to be told that more driving practice will be needed. The instructor will need to be told to break down the teaching modules into smaller modules. In other words, more step-by-step teaching is essential. You should accompany your child in the vehicle throughout the driver's training.
  • After your child completes driver's training, I would strongly suggest you return to the IDT team with the results of the training. Allow the team to assess the training. Just as important,  the driving instructor should attend this meeting to answer any questions team members might have.
  • Good luck with the driver's test. Remember, it's a written test as well as a road test.

NY State Mandates Insurance Coverage For Autism

On Nov. 1, 2011, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill authorizing insurance companies to cover Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the treatment for children with autism. New York State becomes the 29th state to mandate such insurance coverage.

The law takes effect November 1, 2012. ABA treatment will be covered up to $45,000.00 a year regardless of age.

Airway Abnormalities And Autism

Dr. Barbara Stewart, a pediatric pulmonologist at Nemours Children's Clinic in Pensacola, Florida, reported the finding of abnormalities in the airways of children with autism. Instead of the usual random, asymmetrical branches in the airway, she found "doubled up" symmetrical branches in children with autism. In addition, the branches were smaller. She found this condition in all 43 children with autism in her research. None of the 300 children without autism had this condition. At this early date in the study, researchers do not know what to make of this condition. But they do now know that autism must be treated as a "whole-body" phenomena. ---USA Today