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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
A local mom is taking on the State of Ohio in a battle over
better care for her autistic son.
Federal judge Michael Barrett ruled the state must resume
speech therapy and other care for Holly and Doug Young’s son Roman.
“It was relief,
hope,” Holly told FOX19.
The program that offers the aid is the Help Me Grow early
intervention program offered through the state Department of Health.
The Ohio Department of Health released the
following statement to FOX19 Thursday:
Ohio’s Help Me
Grow Early Intervention program coordinates a federally-defined scope of
services based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for
children with a variety of developmental and medical needs who are under the
age of three. The Ohio Department of Health, as the lead agency for HMG,
is responsible for ensuring access to the 17 federally defined early
intervention service types including services such as; speech/language therapy,
physical therapy, nursing services and audiology services. Specific
services are coordinated by HMG depending on what each child needs within the
scope of the law.
The department maintains Applied Behavioral Analysis treatment is not a
part of the Help Me Grow Program.
The Young’s son Roman is two and first began receiving care
from the state in 2011. She says they stopped all treatment back in August and
in December she and her husband filed a lawsuit in Federal Court.
Holly argues the state is required by federal mandate to
provide more extensive treatment called “Applied Behavioral Analysis”. The
judge has not yet ruled on whether the state is required to offer that
Holly is a police woman and her husband a
firefighter. Even between their two salaries, however, they say they cannot
come close to paying for the hours of therapy insurance will not cover for
their son. Holly says with grants, loans, credit cards and caring friends they
have been able to pay for about 15 hours of therapy a week. She says a health
expert from the Cleveland Clinic believes her son should be receiving 46 hours
Holly says this battle for more extensive care is
the hardest thing she has ever done.
“When we started with Help Me Grow we were
relieved, excited, happy someone was here to help us, help with Roman,” she
said of the initial treatment.
In the beginning she says Roman was getting two
hours of speech therapy a month. Knowing her son was at a critical age for
behavioral modification, she began researching and increasingly felt that
amount of treatment was not enough.
“The clock was ticking and we were losing minutes,
and hours, and days, and months,” Holly said.
At that point, Young started fighting for her son
to get applied behavioral analysis therapy.
“A lot of people don’t want to go up against the
educational system or the health system,” she said. “It’s someone that they’re
taught to respect and when they say ‘no’, no means no and so a lot of parents
don’t fight it.”
Holly and her husband Doug did fight, however.
“It’s all about our son and everyone else’s son
behind us or daughter that should be receiving this help, but isn’t receiving
this help,” she said.
While the judge did order the earlier treatment to
resume, Holly continues to wait for his decision on the additional treatment.
“They should be getting more than two hours of
speech and when you ask them if they think that’s adequate they say ‘yes’,” she
said. “But if you read any report on autism if you speak to any experts in
autism they’ll tell you that clearly that’s not enough and that on top of it
this ABA therapy is critical.”
Young argues early intervention is key not only for
children, but for taxpayers long-term.
“If you get the child early on and you take care of
the child there’s studies that show where it saves millions of dollars,” she
“We’re just out there to get what our son needs and
is entitled to, nothing more,” she said. “There’s a difference between the best
care and what the child is entitled to and should be receiving. And there are
federal funds and federal monies that are already being funneled into these
areas for these children.”
The judge is expected to make a ruling on the case
within a week.
Roman turns three this month his care then falls to the local school district.