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Big change, bigger benefit:
What ABA means to my family

This is the first year since 2011 that I haven’t needed a separate insurance policy.

My daughter has autism, and she’s been receiving full-time applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for almost five years. That therapy – and the center and staff providing it – have changed both our lives dramatically for the better. But ABA wasn’t (yet) a benefit that Purdue covered, and so my then 5-year-old had her own individual insurance policy. Two premiums, two deductibles … it certainly felt like too much.

But I saw my girl flourishing, and for that, “too much” was simply what needed to happen.
Even the most positive changes take time. During the past five years, Purdue did a lot of fact-gathering and listening to parents and experts about ABA. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that group (as a parent and definitely not as an expert!), so I knew that progress was happening behind the scenes long before the announcement was made that Purdue would begin following the Indiana autism mandate on January 1, 2016.

That was a big deal. It was a big deal because it was a choice Purdue made and not a regulation the University had to follow. (As a self-insured employer, Purdue is exempt from the mandate.) Purdue voluntarily chose to add this benefit because it was the right thing to do.

So since January 1, I’ve had one insurance policy. (And one premium, and one deductible.) It not only covers all my daughter’s needs, it does so in such a way that I can relax without the threat of her services being reduced or denied for arbitrary reasons. It lets me breathe.

If you don’t love someone with autism, the significance of this might not register fully. But for me, my family – and all the other families at Purdue like ours – it’s not a little thing. Even for those children who don’t need full-time ABA therapy, or those who don’t need ABA at all, it is a confirmation that their needs are seen and valued.

It’s not something I take for granted; it’s something for which I’m intensely grateful. 

- Kerry Blankenship, organizational effectiveness communication specialist, Human Resources, and Emma’s mom

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