Local Father Fights to Reverse State Policy That Leaves Children with Autism Without Access to Treatment

Christine Tarlecki
Image via Brett Sholtis, WHYY.
Drew Friedman points to an enclosed area at Masons Mill Park in Willow Grove, where his son Ari, who has autism, likes to play.

Montgomery County resident Drew Friedman is leading the charge to reverse new state policy that will leave his five-year-old son, Ari, and thousands of other Pennsylvania children with autism without access to critical treatment, writes Brett Sholtis for WHYY.

Many children with autism participate in applied behavior analysis therapy, which helps them achieve milestones like communicating and interacting with others.

However, a policy change that was intended to increase access to services will instead remove coverage by federal Medical Assistance for children who attend regular therapy at clinics. Medical Assistance will still cover sessions conducted at home.

For Friedman’s son, who spends around 30 hours a week at his local center, Exceptional Connections, this does not work.

Friedman is one of more than 4,000 people who have signed a petition asking the state to continue to cover these services.

Friedman also wrote to the governor’s office, saying that for his non-vocal son who lacks comprehension of the world around him, “the clinic setting offers a predictable space where the use of his communication device enriches his opportunities to communicate.”

Read more about the issue at WHYY by clicking here.