By Kodey Toney
What Might Have Been
Have you ever left a situation, especially a tense one, and felt like there were so many things you should have said? Or, you remember things that just left your brain in the heat of the conversation? This is what it was like last week when I traveled to the state capital to advocate for House Bill 2962. The Autism Insurance Reform Bill.
I traveled to the city to meet up with, an estimated 150, other advocates to speak with representatives about how important this bill is to the future of our children, and our state.
There were so many advocates that I couldn't possibly name them all here, but I do have to say that Tara Hood and Judith Ursitti helped lead the pack. When I arrived I visited with Rep. James Lockhart and Rep. Ed Cannaday to discuss where we stand with the bill, and they both seemed very optimistic.
I then went to the meeting room and met up with some parents, who happen to be co-workers, Angela Donley and Marsha Berg. We, along with father, advocate, and radio show host Phil Inzinga, went through the capital visiting with representatives. Inzinga, who co-hosts the Morning Animals Show on sports radio stations throughout the state, has been a great advocate for his son and many others on the spectrum.
Our first stop however left us wondering what had just happened to us. I won't name any names, but one of the floor leaders invited us in, listened to us very respectfully, and then left us feeling like a child who had just left the principal's office. He let us discuss our issue, but when I made the mistake of saying that my wife was a teacher, just to make a point about our income level, he went on a tangent about the state of the education system in Oklahoma. We thanked him for his time, tucked our tails, scratched our heads, and left.
Fortunately the other people we met with were not quite as intense.
When I left I had wished that I could have explained that the number of children diagnosed is constantly increasing. This means that if we don't get a handle on this now we are just going to have a larger problem in the future. After all, the future is what we're talking about.
This is a step toward further acceptance in this state. In addition to the importance of assisting people with autism in making a better life for themselves, it shows that we are willing to accept them for their disability as equals. As it is we are secluding them based on their disability.
I know that the insurance companies, if they haven't already, will fight this tooth and nail so they don't have to spend money. What I would like to remind the insurance companies, and members of congress, is that this is not about their livelihood it's about the lives of the ones we love. That to me is more important.