Up to this point, Nathan's face has been the face on this legislative effort. He is just one of too many children with developmental disabilities who have not been able to get necessary therapies. Hopefully, as more people tell their stories, we will be able to replace Nathan's face with some of the many other faces who need insurance coverage for habilitative therapies!
Nathan has an unknown genetic disorder and global delays. As a young child, he would have benefited greatly from multiple speech, physical therapy, and occupational therapy sessions every week. We did not have insurance coverage for these therapies, and living in rural Missouri, he was limited to therapies through First Steps and then the public school.
First Steps was wonderful, but one of each therapy a week was not sufficient. When Nathan was 3-years-old, he transitioned to the school system. I was not satisfied by the amount of Nathan's therapy, but was told by the ECSE director that when it comes to therapy, "Less is more." I think that mindset explains our experience at that preschool.
We moved to Columbia, MO, when Nathan was almost 5-yrs-old. Suddenly, we had a variety of resources available. Thanks to a county-wide program and the University of Missouri's graduate programs, Nathan was able to get two weekly speech therapies and one physical therapy session each week, in addition to the services he received at school. His growth was tremendous, even though these additional therapies were only available 30 weeks of the year.
Two days ago, we found out that our insurance recently changed and is covering some habilitative therapies. Praise God! Nathan will be able to get year-round speech and language services. Unfortunately, physical and occupational therapies will be limited to 20 sessions per year. While this is better than nothing, it does not cover what he needs.
We are blessed to now have the insurance coverage for speech. We know that this can change, as determined by our insurance. He is also limited in the number of occupational and physical therapy sessions he can get. We need legislation passed which would require insurance companies to cover habilitative therapies for those with developmental disabilities at a quantity determined by the provider. This way, regardless of which way the federal government swings with the ACA or other healthcare mandates, my son and many others in Missouri will be guaranteed the therapies they need to succeed.
Photos by Alex Simecca