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The United States of Autism: Family Updates

US of Autism T-Shirt Spotting with Iowa State Governor


Nearly every GOP candidate from the 2012 election had their picture taken in Iowa with our United States of Autism t-shirts thanks to Sam Wessels, including current nominee Mitt Romney, but it looks like our t-shirt keeps growing in that state no matter what we do!

This past week Sam Wessels was at the Iowa state capitol with Lt Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and check out that t-shirt! He’s in the running for our number one fan for sure!

Congratulations again to Sam, Linda, and Mark for their great work out in Iowa and we can’t wait to show you more about their story and their boy Sam when we release the film!

US of Autism T-Shirt Spotting in Paris, France


I guess this film is going world wide and we can’t stop it (nor would we)! We had a spotting of the United States of Autism t-shirt in front of the Eiffel Tower this past week with one of the families in the film. On their trip, Tunde and her family also wore their t-shirts in the Bahamas, to the Castaway Island, to Riyadh Saudi Arabia, to Dubai UAE, and finally to Paris. We’re so excited for Amin, Safiyya, and Tunde and we can’t wait for you to hear this family’s story when we release the film!

Safe travels to our friends abroad, God Bless, and we look forward to seeing you in the United States again soon!

Autism Movie Family Seeks to Help Military Families Pass Autism Legislation

We have today the privilege of sharing with you some thoughts directly from one of the families in the US of Autism movie about healthcare for the military and specifically about a new bill they hope to see passed through Congress soon so that families can get much needed access to coverage.  Enjoy and best of luck to the Huhtanen family and thousands of families out there just like them looking to make this a better world for our loved ones on the autism spectrum! God Bless!

Time for Change: Battles on the Homefront

Shelly L Huhtanen

 There has been a misconception that Tricare, the healthcare provider that provides medical entitlements to the military, covers all or at least the majority of the services for our military children. In fact, what little services that are covered are not even in the Tricare plan. Our families have to go through the ECHO program which is the extended healthcare option. From this program, our children receive a small percentage of care that does not come close to what the American Academy of Pediatrics deems as medically necessary for our children with autism to improve.

Many people may say that we should be grateful for what little services we may receive.  Many of our families who have paid the ultimate price by losing family members overseas or who have had to say goodbye to our spouses not knowing when or if we will see them again, feel that it is not an unreasonable request for our healthcare provider to give our families the resources to care for our children. It is frustrating for military families to learn that civilian insurance companies are providing more medical services for children on the spectrum through current improvements in legislation than what is provided to our military families.

One issue that is not known is the loss of services once our soldiers retire or who are forced into medical retirement due to injuries sustained from the two wars our men and women in uniform have been fighting. Once you are no longer considered active duty, you are dropped from the ECHO program. This, in turn, means their children on the spectrum no longer are able to receive insurance coverage towards ABA services.

I know of soldiers who have served 26 years in the military or who have been severely wounded from combat to only come home and find that their children with autism are no longer covered for ABA services. The first question that comes to my mind is, “What message does this send to our military families who have fought the battles for our children on the home front while our spouses have fought the battles overseas?”

My hope is that this will soon change. HR 2288 is a bill that has already gained momentum through our legislature with several co-sponsors in support of this must needed change. This bill will force Tricare to cover all necessary ABA services for our military children with autism. It will no longer be in the ECHO program meaning soldiers who have retired will still receive services to enable them to care for their children. I ask that you contact your congressmen and urge them to support this bill. It is long overdue and will support military families in their fight for their children with autism.

An organization that my husband and I fully support is ACT Today for military families. Since the hardships with military families can be indescribable, this organization dedicates itself to raising money for our families. Due to the lack of support of Tricare, ACT Today for military families, provides grants to families so they can care for their children on the spectrum.

On April 7, Mark and I will be running for Team Broden to raise money for ACT Today for  military families in San Diego. I encourage you to support this wonderful organization. If you would like to support Team Broden, please click on this link.

http://acttodayformilitaryfamilies.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=996112&lis=1&kntae996112=CC4CCA60ED7F475F9490BC120C1F0223&team=4858810  Whatever you can provide to these children is greatly appreciated.

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Alex Plank among ’50 Most Inspiring Autistic People’

One of the 50 Most Inspiring

We are super excited to announce that one of the individuals featured in the upcoming “The United States of Autism” film, has been named among the 50 Most Inspiring Autistic People of 2011 alongside folks like Temple Grandin herself!

Alex is the founder of Wrong Planet, one of the largest and most important communities for people with Asperger’s syndrome and autism.  He is also the producer of Autism Talk TV, which is a media effort supported by Autism Speaks.

Next up, Alex will be seen in New Jersey for the upcoming ASPEN Spring Conference on April 29, 2012. ASPEN (Asperger’s Syndrome Education Network) offers professionals the opportunity to join us at meetings where speakers are scheduled and provides Professional Development Hours to those who attend. ASPEN is registered with the NJ Department of Education as a Professional Development Provider.

Congratulations Alex and keep up the hard work!

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