On March 18, 2013, the Michigan Department of Community Health announced a new plan to help residents in the state living within the autism spectrum. The Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorder State Plan will address the needs of the more than 16,000 public school students with autism spectrum disorders as well as all Michigan residents and their families affected by autism.
The plan was created by an advisory committee led by Grand Valley State's Amy Matthews, Ph. D. The committee of 51 experts used existing date, public opinion, research and parent input to create the Michigan ASD State Plan. The group determined that the plan will focus on several key areas including intervention and identification services for those who may be affected by ASD, adult services, and education supports and services. Physical, behavioral, and mental health care will also be a focus for the plan.
What Michigan has done is to identify the areas where support services were lacking for those living with ASD. Michigan already offers insurance benefits for children with autism, but covering medical costs is only part of the solution for helping those with autism and related disorders to realize their potential.
One reason that Michigan is making autism a priority is, in part, because some of the state leaders understand the disorder too well. Lt. Governor Brian Calley is the father of a child with autism. He said of the Michigan ASD State Plan, "Michigan will be the place to be if you're a family that is living with an autism spectrum disorder," according to The Detroit Free Press.
In recent months, many states have considered legislation that requires insurance companies to cover autism treatments, but the Michigan ASD State Plan takes the concept one step further to ensure that all persons living with autism have access to support services as well as health services. You can learn more about Michigan's services by visiting the Michigan Autism Program website.