Autism Speaks Exec Speaks
The National Institutes of Health defines autism spectrum disorder as "a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily living."
Lorri Unumb of Lexington, South Carolina, is vice president of state government affairs at Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. In a telephone interview, 48-year-old Unumb said, "At our son's (Ryan's) 18-month check-up, our pediatrician inquired about his words and speaking. Our answer was that he didn't. He didn't say any words. Beyond him being a colicky baby, we didn't notice any other idiosyncrasies. We were first-time parents."
At 22 months, Ryan was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The Unumbs went through a short period of grieving before turning their attention to giving Ryan the "best possible life." Soon thereafter, doctors advised the Unumbs to start a 40-hour-a-week applied behavior analysis program with Ryan, which began changing his disruptive into functional behaviors.
She said, "I had no idea then that health insurance wouldn't pay for this program the doctor recommended. It struck me as unfair that people would pay monthly premiums and if the reason they needed it was autism, they couldn't get the treatment the doctor prescribed."
The Unumbs paid out-of-pocket for treatment for several years. Both mother and father were attorneys. But not every parent of a child with autism had such resources, and Unumb knew it. "So I wrote a bill to remedy (the situation)," she said. "By this time, we'd moved from Washington D.C. to South Carolina. I had friends in my (autism) support group in South Carolina who knew their child needed therapy but couldn't do anything about it. It was a knife in my stomach thinking how unfair that was."
While lobbying South Carolina legislators, she faced strong opposition from health insurers, until winning in 2007. Her bill was renamed Ryan's law. Autism Speaks then hired her to push for similar laws in other states, and so far she has succeeded in 44.
To parents of children with diagnosed autism, she said, "The most important thing is not to spend too long grieving or wondering why this has happened, but instead to put your efforts into what you can do this point forward." She said Autism Speaks had an online video to guide families through their first 100 days following a diagnosis.
Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.
Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
Placer County News HeadlinesWilliam Jessup University Announces Largest Graduating ClassROCKLIN, CA., - William Jessup University, the first WASC accredited private, four-year residential Christian university in the greater Sacramento region will celebrate its 77th annual
Sonoma County Outdoor Recreation Month in May SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA - Celebrate one of California's most diverse natural destinations as Sonoma County announces its inaugural Outdoor Recreation Month in May
Monophonics Sure is Funky at TerrapinSan Rafael,CA- As the mercury pushed into the 70's this past Friday, music fans began slowly dancing their way toward Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael.
Storms Bring Good News for Water SupplyAUBURN, Calif. - Despite a dry start to 2018, storms in late March and early April have produced above-average precipitation in the watersheds that source Placer County Water Agency's
PCF Awards $18,000 in Grants to Promote Civil Discourse(Auburn, Calif.) - Open dialogue and communication are key elements in maintaining a healthy, connected community. To encourage debate, Placer Community Foundation
Dog Abandoned in Roseville under Inhumane CircumstancesRoseville, Calif. - A dog was found abandoned in a corner of the Atlantic Street Pet Emergency Center parking lot under terribly inhumane circumstances
Sun City Roseville Harmonicoots 2018 JamboreeRoseville, CA- This year, the Harmonicoots will honor all women harmonica players throughout the world at their Jamboree-scheduled for Thursday, May 8, 2018
Roseville Gas Prices Hold Steady Past Week Roseville, CA,- Roseville gas prices were relatively flat this past week, but remain at levels pushing near 2014 levels at some locations
Successful Transitions for Young Adults with Neurodevelopmental DisordersSacramento, CA- For many people with disabilities, the excitement of life after high school is accompanied by challenges with finding and receiving the services and supports
Passport Weekend Spectacular Fun in Fair PlayFair Play, CA- California is always full of surprise. This weekend marked our return to El Dorado Wines Passport Weekend.
Growing Weed in Placer County? Rules and ComplianceAuburn, CA - With Placer County's cannabis ordinance now in effect for over a year, county staff will host three drop-in meetings in May to answer questions about rules for cannabis cultivation
2018 Volkswagen SportWagen provides versatilityRoseville, CA,- Versatility is the 2018 Volkswagen SportWagen's main calling card, yet it has other enviable qualities that make it a good choice for car buyers.