Editor's Note: Steven Higgs, who runs the excellent Autism and the Indiana Environment blog, has written a powerful piece on how "impending cuts in the Medicaid Autism Waiver will devastate the lives of Indiana citizens with autism and other disabilities who receive services under the federal program," humanizing the situation by telling it through the life of one young adult with autism and the "direct support professional" who is trying to help him. It's the kind of thing that more and more states, individuals with an autism diagnosis, and outreach agencies are facing every day.
Autism Waiver cuts spell catastrophe in Indiana
By Steven Higgs
If you think you're going to hike with Ron Habney, you'd better be prepared. The 6-foot-tall, 130-pound, 25-year-old treks an average four to six miles a day on some of the most challenging trails in Southern Indiana's Upland regions. Not everyday, to his chagrin, but multiple times a week. Last summer, on one 96-degree day, Ron hiked 9.4 miles through the Charles Deam Wilderness Area in two hours and 20 minutes.
So says John Willman, who knows. He's been Ron's hiking companion and caregiver for almost eight years now. "He's truly an athlete," John says of Ron. "His hiking skills are almost unmatched." Beneath close-cropped, thick, black hair, Willman's blue-green eyes beam proud-parent-like as he recounts Ron's on-trail achievements. But they're just a footnote to this rainy-gray November afternoon interview.
Ron has autism, and John, who is not Ron's parent, is preoccupied with his fate.
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