Please go to our NEW blog at: and save it to your favorites!

As of April, 2008 this blog will no longer be updated. Many autism advocacy groups are working together to promote this legislation & our new blog reflects this initiative.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ACTION ALERT! 4/22/08 from MI autism advocates

It’s Call-In Day to Senator George! Please call him at (517) 373-0793 between 9am-3pm and ask him to hold a hearing in the Senate. Even if you can't attend the rally, please give Sen. George a call. Sen. George can be reached at 877-445-2378, Lansing 517-373-7708 and Kalamazoo 269-226-0124

Autism Speaks is calling us to action!


Michigan recently became one of a growing number of states across the country to introduce autism insurance reform bills this session. Representatives Kathy Angerer (D-55) and Richard Ball (R-85) have introduced House Bills 5527 & 5529, and Senator Tupac Hunter (D-5) has introduced Senate Bills 784 & 785, which seek to end insurance discrimination for children with autism spectrum disorders and provide them with evidence based, medically necessary treatments that they need to live more productive lives. The bill provides for coverage for therapies such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological therapy and services and applied behavioral analysis therapy as prescribed by a treating physician or psychologist.


A rally will be held to ask for a hearing on bills in both the House and Senate on Tuesday, April 22nd in Lansing, MI at the Capitol. The rally begins at 11am and will go until 2pm. We encourage you to attend and make plans to visit with your legislators during and at the conclusion of the rally.


STARTING ON MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2008 AT 11:00AM through WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23 at 5:30 pm!

1. CALL the members of the House Health Policy Committee and ask for a hearing and their support for HB 5527 & 5529. Let them know how much we need their help and what this would mean to your child and your family. Definitely MAKE THE CALL if you see one of YOUR Representatives is on the Committee!

District Map

Rep. Kathy Angerer (Committee Chair) 55th (517) 373-1792
Rep. Mike Simpson (Majority Vice-Chair) 65th (517) 373-1775
Rep. Barb Byrum 67th (517) 373-0587
Rep. Brenda Clack 34th (517) 373-8808
Rep. Marc R. Corriveau 20th (517) 373-3816
Rep. Andy Coulouris 95th (517) 373-0152
Rep. Marie Donigan 26th (517) 373-3818
Rep. Ted Hammon 50th (517) 373-3906
Rep. Robert B. Jones 60th (517) 373-1785
Rep. Mary Valentine 91st (517) 373-3436
Rep. Lisa Wojno 28th (517) 373-2275
Rep. Bert Johnson 5th (517) 373-0144
Rep. Edward Gaffney (Minority Vice-Chair) 1st (517) 373-0154
Rep. Joe Hune 47th (517) 373-8835
Rep. Jim Marleau 46th (517) 373-1798
Rep. Kevin Green 77th (517) 373-2277
Rep. Richard Ball 85th (517) 373-0841
Rep. Brian N. Calley 87th (517) 373-0842
Rep. David Robertson 51st (517) 373-1780
Rep. Tim Moore 97th (517) 373-8962

2. FOLLOW UP WITH AN EMAIL to the members of the House Health Policy Committee as well and be sure to include one or two paragraphs about why this is an important issue to you!

3. CALL and EMAIL Senator Thomas George (R - District 20), the Chair of the MI Senate Health Policy Committee. Ask Senator George to hold a hearing on SB 784 & 785 and explain to him why this is an important issue to you.

Senator Thomas George - (517) 373 -0793

4. PASS THIS ALERT ALONG! Forward this ALERT out to anyone you know who will help who lives in Michigan. We need to demonstrate the strength of the autism community in our state. Please forward to teachers, therapists, family members and neighbors to ask for their support on this important piece of legislation. Don't just leave it up to the autism community to get this done! We need everyone's help!

For more information on these bills and grassroots activity in Michigan, please visit


Shelley Hendrix
Director of State Advocacy Relations
Autism Speaks


Macomb Daily Publishes Insurance Article

PUBLISHED: Monday, April 21, 2008
Autism advocates to rally at Capitol

Insurance reform is battle cry

By Maryanne Kocis MacLeod
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Autism advocate and parent Debbi Ringle of Shelby Township, with her son Jesse and husband Mark, make posters to take to Tuesday's rally in Lansing.
Macomb Daily staff photos by Craig Gaffield

Parents and autism advocates from across the state on Tuesday will channel their love and frustration into a state Capitol rally that highlights the need for insurance reform.
Justin Harlan, 9, of Berkley, will be among the participants. Though he's been verbal for only four years, what he wants to say to legislators, insurance companies and parents, is worth hearing.

"Without all the speech therapy my parents paid for -- out of their own pocket -- I wouldn't be speaking at this rally," said Justin, who once spent significant time spinning in circles on the floor. "I wouldn't be speaking at all."

The event focuses on bills introduced in the House and Senate which provide insurance coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder, up to $50,000 annually.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that impairs a person's ability to relate to and communicate with the world around them.

"Insurance companies aren't covering kids because they have autism, that's discrimination," said Justin's mom, Stephanie Harlan, director of autism connections at the Judson Center in Royal Oak, a non-profit organization committed to improving people's lives.

"We desperately need mandated coverage," she said. "My son's a living miracle, but he's not unique. Lots of kids are doing great, going on with perfectly functional lives. But early intervention is key."

Such treatment, Harlan stressed, enables autistic children to grow into independent adults, thus reducing the societal burden of providing lifetime care for them.

Over a person's life, the cost saving is estimated to be $1.6 to $2.8 million according to the Autism Society of America and a study by the London School of Economics. Insurance coverage would translate to $1.47 to $4.10 per month per policy holder.

Still in the early stages, the legislation has support in both the House and the Senate, Harlan said.

Shelby Township's Debbi Ringle will be in attendance Tuesday, and is encouraging others to be there, too.

"I know it's difficult for people to get up there; parents are working and gas mileage is a factor," Ringle said, "but this is a unique opportunity to be heard."

"Other states have passed similar bills," she added. "In Michigan, this is long overdue."

Ringle and her husband Mark learned that the youngest of their three children, Jesse, 8, was autistic shortly after buying a new home with a bulky mortgage.

Their new circumstances forced Ringle to quit her job in order to research and facilitate Jesse's treatment, which often required driving 350 miles a week.

"Because we couldn't do it on our own, I put my pride aside more often than I can say to ask for assistance," Ringle said, "from Macomb County Community Mental Health, friends, family, my church, the Kiwanis, the Ted Lindsey Foundation for Autism, The Ciccarelli Children's Hope Fund.

"I did what I had to do so my child could learn how to eat, to talk, to play, to engage in the world around him."

An online support group through the Judson Center, along with others supports and resources, helped Ringle get started and find a direction. The hard work paid off: Jesse attends mainstream classes at Monsort Elementary through Utica schools.

Ringle now helps other parents of newly diagnosed children sort through the maze of options and emotions.

"It's so overwhelming," she said. "You're a like a deer in the headlights. I sit down with them and just love on them. I tell them what conferences and meetings to attend, what groups to get in touch with, what books to read.

"I try to empower them," she said.

Since most parents aren't used to sharing their experiences with lawmakers, Carolyn Gammicchia of Shelby Township put together a package of "talking points" for attendees to reference.

"We have this opportunity to let people know what's going on and we have to take it," said Gammicchia, whose 16-year-old son Nicholas, though significantly "challenged," recently made the honor roll and won the Courage award from the Autism Society of Michigan.

"Our son has been able to come really far," she said, recalling the days when Nicholas kicked out her front teeth or pulled her hair and kicked at the car's interior when she took a different turn. "It's heartbreaking to know that other families can't afford it."

The Gammicchias have spent $150,000 out-of-pocket for their son's treatment.

"Nicholas still has trouble self-regulating, but we keep a trampoline in our living room and he just goes in there and jumps a few times and then he's OK," she said.

In addition to sensory integration therapy, Nicholas has benefited from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, B12 shots and a diet overhaul.

"This rally is our one chance to come together and share our stories," Gammicchia said of the rally.

For those who wish to attend tomorrow's event, check out for details.

For more information, visit or call (248) 549-4339.

To reach the Autism Society of Michigan, visit"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lansing Rally in 3 days!

Another blog was recently created to increase networking among the members of the MI Autism Community. Many different organizations have joined forces: Autism Speaks, Autism Society & The Judson Center(MICHIGAN ACTION). You can visit their blog at:

This posting comes from that blog site.

Here are the latest details of the rally:

The Governor is sending her staff to listen to the speakers, talk to people and report back.

Make sure to bring-

1. Folding chairs for you and family--drop off chairs prior to parking so you don't have to carry

2. Sack lunch- we will have some bottles of water free to attendees(while supplies last)

3. Digital camera so that you can email pictures of the rally to your local paper.

4. We will have over 500 signs made but feel free to bring your own, or bring a picture of your child and we can tape it to an already made sign. We will have tape available to do this.

So far unfortunately, we will not be providing any buses.

We will have people ready to find out who your Rep and Senators are so that you can go visit them in their offices. Make sure you find your way to those designated tables.

Parking: During weekdays, parking is a major problem around the Capitol. Although there is metered parking on all streets around Capitol Square, it is not adequate to handle the number of individuals who desire to park close to the Capitol. There are six parking ramps within three blocks of the Capitol: Boji Parking Ramp at the corner of Capitol and Allegan, the ramp at the corner of Townsend and Washtenaw, the City Parking Ramp at Capitol and Kalamazoo, the City Parking Ramp at the intersection of Allegan and Grand, the City Parking Ramp at Ottawa and Grand, and the City Parking Ramp at Capitol and Shiawassee. Parking space for cars and vans is also available in the Michigan Library and Historical Center parking lot.

Also, for a map of the Capitol's parking areas go to PARKING

To get directions to the Capitol, go to MAPQUEST

For talking points when you meet with you legislator, go to Talking Points

Bills 5526 & 5528

House Bills 5526 and 5528 are Passed in the Michigan House. They still have to pass the Senate.

These Bills, establishing the Autism Research Fund, will still have to be passed by the Senate to become Law.

House Bill 5526

Bill History
read a second time

placed on third reading

placed on immediate passage

read a third time

passed; given immediate effect Roll Call # 179 Yeas 108 Nays 1


House Bill 5528
read a second time

placed on third reading

placed on immediate passage

read a third time

passed; given immediate effect Roll Call # 180 Yeas 108 Nays 1

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rally in Lansing on Capitol Steps....April 22nd

This message was posted on the Michigan ACTION site.

Have you, or someone you love, been touched by Autism?
If so, you can help!

Rally on the Capitol Steps 11am - 2pm

We are planning a Rally on the Capitol Steps on Apr. 22 at 11am - 2pm. It is Autism Awareness Month and this is our chance to make our insurance bills front and center. We need EVERYONE for this one!! Please, bring your friends, relatives, neighbors and, especially, your families. We need to have a strong showing, a really strong showing! We are trying to get at least 1,000 people on the steps in Lansing!! This is our big chance, all the legislators will see us, we've made sure of that. It is our time to show them just how big this problem is, that we have the numbers to make a difference and our votes will be heard. We have a good chance of getting these bills through this year, but we can't do it without your help! More details will come as we get closer, but we wanted to give you time to make arrangements at work, etc. Let's show them we won't accept anything less than equal insurance coverage! Please, share this information with everyone - pass this on!

Call to Action: We need to get our troops in order! To have a strong "army" we must have large numbers - Please, we need names, addresses, phone and emails for anyone who is a registered voter. So, when the time comes, we can have them contact their Reps. to let them know just how important this issue is. We will send out an email template where all you have to do is fill in your name. We need at least 5 names from every district (MI has 110 of them). We especially need contacts Up North, in the U.P. and on the West side of the state too. Husbands & Wives count as 2 people so please - Help us build a strong Army!
Breaking News: “Autism Speaks sends heartfelt thanks to our many supporters in the Senate for their steadfast support of autism research funding. Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Susan Collins offered an amendment to the FY2009 Budget Resolution to increase funding for autism research, education and early detection by $197 million. This increase authorizes doubling of autism research funding. Additionally, Senator Arlen Specter and Senator Tom Harkin offered an amendment to increase research funding at the NIH by 2 billion in FY2009. Both amendments passed overwhelmingly. Thank you, Senators, for your efforts on behalf of children, adults, and families affected by autism.” These votes happened late last night and we want to thank all of you in MI who jumped in and helped contact our senators yesterday! LOOK what we were able to do! WE CAN DO THIS SAME THING WITH OUR MICHIGAN BILLS!! We need you in LANSING on APR. 22!!!!

Call to have your Senator support Senate Bills 784 and 785 to allow
access to treatment for children with Autism who have insurance, but are not covered.

Call your Representative and ask them to support House Bills 5527 & 5529.

To find your Senator contact information:
To find your Representative contact information: