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Advocacy

Advocates looking for reliable data to support programs that would benefit people with autism often mention the Interactive Autism Network (IAN). Research involving IAN has been used many times, at both the federal and state levels, to support insurance coverage for autism treatments, along with measures to improve the safety of people with autism.

Wandering Research Used to Advance Safety

 IAN's research on wandering in children with autism has been cited by advocates of various safety programs. In 2012, IAN reported on its research showing that nearly half of children with autism wander or run away from caregivers and safe places, which can endanger their safety. This behavior is also called "elopement."

In 2018, for example, IAN's wandering research was used in Los Angeles County, California, by supporters of Project Lifesaver. a program that helps locate people with dementia or autism who wander away. On the federal level, IAN wandering research has been cited by some advocates for Kevin and Avonte's Law. If passed by the U.S. Congress, Kevin and Avonte's Law would allow federal grants to be used for programs that would help locate vulnerable people who wander, and provide training for school personnel and first responders, among other things. The proposed law was named in memory of two boys with autism who, in separate incidents, wandered away and drowned. In March 2018, the proposal was still before Congress.

In 2017, IAN Director Paul H. Lipkin, MD, spoke to the U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee about new IAN research into preventing injuries in children with autism who wander.

Insurance Coverage for Autism Treatments

IAN research also has been used to advocate for insurance coverage for autism treatments, therapies and medical care. In 2011, then-IAN Director Paul Law, MD, used IAN research data in testimony to the Maryland state legislature. Dr. Law and other members of the autism community supported a bill requiring private health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis, testing, and treatment of ASD.

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