Thousands of East Texans helping with costs for autism treatment - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Thousands of East Texans helping with costs for autism treatment

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Julie Tiller and her son, Reid (Source: KLTV Staff) Julie Tiller and her son, Reid (Source: KLTV Staff)
Callen Reed was diagnosed with autism last year (Source: KLTV Staff) Callen Reed was diagnosed with autism last year (Source: KLTV Staff)
Participants at the Tyler run for autism Saturday morning (Source: KLTV Staff) Participants at the Tyler run for autism Saturday morning (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Thousands of East Texans are raising awareness about autism, a disease that has become increasingly prevalent nationwide. Parents say they are paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to get treatment for their children who have been diagnosed with autism. Saturday, funds were raised during the Tyler run for autism to help parents afford treatment for their children. Some parents say therapy for their children is not covered by their insurance.

"Today's a big day for us. It's a year mark since my son's been diagnosed with autism," Alyssa Reed said.

Reed says an early diagnosis has helped her two-year-old son Callen tremendously. Many parents say it took them years to understand why their child needed behavioral treatment.

"We want families to know that TLC is here in town. You don't have to drive to Houston, Austin or Dallas. You can go right here to have ABA therapy, which is very important because that therapy is the only thing recognized by the surgeon general as therapy for autism," Julie Tiller said.

Julie Tiller's seven-year-old son Reid is defeating autism through applied behavior analysis therapy at the Treatment and Learning Center for Autism in Tyler. It's a treatment that is often not covered by insurance.

"When we first started, I went through a battle with my insurance," Tiller said. "They just looked at me and said no. I said this will help my child; this will make him indistinguishable with his peers."

Reed is currently facing the same financial problem Tiller once had. Her family recently had to change their primary insurance.

"Just as soon as we signed up for it we were told that the insurance doesn't cover ABA therapy," Reed said. "I was told because it's self insured. It's some kind of loop hole that they can take where they don't have to pay for certain medical expenses."

Tiller says it costs more than $200 a day for seven hours of therapy for an autistic student and more than $50,000 a year for a full-time student. The therapy is costly for some but the CDC says its helping with the rising diagnosis.

"I think that it's more recognized today. I think 30 years ago people didn't understand it, they didn't know anything about it and I think it was scary," Reed said. "Now, there's therapy, school and much more, so it's definitely being handled a lot better than it was a long time ago."

The Tyler run for autism organization had more than 1,000 runners participate Saturday and they're hoping to raise more than $30,000 to help families afford treatment. Last year, they were able to help three families with medical expenses.

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