Mason was, and is, very much like every other 12-year-old. He thinks Tony Hawk invented the Internet, that PlayStation is a portal to another dimension and that his parents were created by God for the express purpose of dreaming up chores that keep him from that precious PlayStation.
When the autism bill came to a head during the last legislative session, there was no question in anyone’s minds that this was an issue that simply wouldn’t die on the vine. And Mason is an example of why autism legislation is necessary and simply the right thing to do.
A former state representative, who made the wise decision not to run for re-election, held up what could have been a landmark bill for Oklahoma families living with loved ones struggling with autism. The bill didn’t get a fair hearing, but will be back this next legislative session and both sides of the argument are gathering their troops for what will be an epic fight.
And it should be.
Anyone coming into contact with Mason can see very clearly that there is hope for people living with autism and that with the right treatment protocols, life can eventually be relatively normal ” as we understand normal, of course. Some with more severe forms of autism may not experience complete normality, but again, a little hope and respite may be better than none at all.
Conservatives like to argue that mandating coverage for autism will be a financial burden to Oklahomans. This is very true ” particularly for Oklahomans who are running for office and depend upon insurance company donations for their campaigns. But to be intellectually honest (I know, we’re talking about legislation here, but bear with me) the government mandates things all the time. Our beloved government requires insurance companies to cover breast cancer, testicular cancer and when transferring from one job to another, insurance companies are required to accept clients with pre-existing conditions.
Sometimes, doing the right thing for the least among us is difficult and may cost us a little cash. So be it. We are willing to shell out big dollars for OU football tickets and the soon-to-arrive NBA team. Let’s face it ” legislators love getting tickets to those events, don’t they?
Why not do the right thing, lean into the pitch and take one for the team? Requiring insurance companies to actually cover a medical condition may be tough for some bought-and-paid-for legislators, but for the rest of us with 50 functioning brain cells, we see it as the right thing to do.
The Legislature sees no problem in funding things like fire ant research and a much-needed license plate design task force, surely doing the right thing and providing a little help for those living autism shouldn’t be that difficult, should it?
Black, Mason’s father, is a consultant living in Edmond and founder of Wild Oklahoma TV & Radio.