Testimony heard to extend qualifying age for autism services - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Testimony heard to extend qualifying age for autism services

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A joint public hearing held on a pair of bills that would benefit autism services on Guam.

Sens. Therese Terlaje and Joe San Agustin are cosponsoring Bills 66 and 68 -which would increase the age qualification and insurance cap for autism treatment and provide $150,000 for the Guam Autism center. Emotional testimony at the Guam Congress Hall as parents of autistic kids talk about funding for treatment running out.

"The thought of reaching this point is frightening it would be at this time consideration to reduce Eli's ABA hours and or completely withdraw him from the center will be made as to avoid our family from sinking into a financial black hole," Teresa Cruz Blas testified referring to her son.

Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy or ABA is recognized standard treatment for autism.

Meanwhile, Sen. Terlaje says the age and insurance funding caps for autism treatment would be expanded, and the funding would mean less off-island travel for the as many as 800 children affected by autism on island.

"We've seen some of the students, and we've been able to meet them through these outreach events, so some of these students have really come along way due to the efforts of (GDOE), CEEDERS, the early intervention programs," she said. "But there's new behavior therapy that's becoming the new standard and we wanted to make sure that's available on Guam."

Terlaje says technical training for new autism behavioral therapy takes six months and the funding will help train more technicians.

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