The Conundrum of HealthCare Parity for Children with Autism: New Laws Put Therapy Benefits at Risk
Autism currently and historically has been classified in the world of medicine as a mental illness.
However, anyone who has witnessed the behaviors of a child with autism will tell you there are a
multitude of complex issues all occurring at the same time that may not be due to a “mental”
illness, but the manifestation of medical conditions not yet diagnosed. Associated symptoms
affecting persons with autism range from severe food or contact allergies to neurosensory
processing disorders. For some children with autism, even the mere sound of a door shutting can
cause a meltdown. A toothbrush suddenly falling out of its holder can cause a panic until the
toothbrush is replaced to its former position. The bounce of a ball can cause the person to cover
their ears as if the sound was distorted and deafening. These behaviors are examples of
symptoms related to autism. Unfortunately, symptoms related to autism are said to be part of a
broad spectrum of behaviors which have mostly remained undifferentiated since 1943, when Leo
Kanner first described his observations on 11 children (8 boys and 3 girls) between the ages of 2
and 8 years of age and called their behavior “autism” (Neumärker, K., 2003).