Overview Track

Multiple Autism Law Topics

Thursday, May 23
2 p.m. Impact of the DSM-5 Changes on ASDs – What Parents Need to Know
Katie Weisman, Mitchel Perlman, PhD, Steven Kosser
Moderator: Rick Ellis
3 p.m. Know Your Family Law Rights
Lisa Colin, Esq. and Kim Mack Rosenberg, Esq.
4 p.m. Navigating the Maze of Health Insurance for Autism-related Interventions
Karen Fessel, Dr. PH
Friday, May 24
8:30 a.m. An Update On Congress, Autism and the VICP
Mark Blaxill, Lou Conte, Brian Hooker and Rolf Hazelhurst, Esq.
Moderator: Lisa Colin, Esq.

Saturday, May 25

1:45 p.m. Know Your Vaccine Exemption Rights
Mary Holland, Esq. Kevin Barry, Esq., Bob Krakow, Esq.
Moderator: Kim Mack Rosenberg, Esq.

Topic Descriptions

Impact of the DSM-5 Changes on ASDs – What Parents Need to Know

This panel discussion will update parents on what the changes are, what impact they may have on diagnosis, services and insurance coverage and ways that parents can work around them to minimize the impact on their child.

Know Your Family Law Rights

CPS may be used to pressure parents into making “alternative” health care decisions. Parents may face neglect or abuse allegations. Court action and child removal are realities for some families. This presentation will assist counsel/parents in preparing for an inquiry and will highlight recent cases. Also, learn about the “letter of intent.” While not legally binding, this letter is an “operation manual” for your child if you are, even temporarily, unable to provide care.

Navigating the Maze of Health Insurance for Autism-related Interventions

Autism Health Insurance Project founder and ASD parent Dr. Karen Fessel will guide you through the insurance maze, breaking down the process involved in obtaining medically necessary autism related interventions through insurance. Topics for discussion include how to get single case agreements with choice providers at in-network rates, what documents you’ll need to submit, common codes to use, autism mandates, and strategies for getting self-insured plans to adopt autism benefits. Changes on the horizon, including how the Affordable Care Act will impact families with autism will also be discussed.

An Update on Congress, Autism and the VICP

On November 29, 2012, Congress held the first hearing on autism in 10 years. It was a momentous day for our community and it has been said that more hearings will come. In addition, this year the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) compensated two new cases for children who developed autism. The members of our panel are some of the many people who have been on the frontlines to witness and to fight for these small victories in Washington. They will be giving an update on what they have been working on and what they see in the future from Congress and from the VICP. There will also be a question and answer section with our panel at the end of their presentation.

Know Your Vaccine Exemption Rights

Can I get a philosophical exemption in my state? Do I need to practice a certain religion to get a religious exemption? Can my child’s school deny my exemption or question my religious sincerity? Vaccine exemptions are something that are very important to families of children with autism but are different state to state and can be complicated if you don’t know where to start. Our panel of experts has years of experience working with both advocacy groups and individuals to help them navigate the many obstacles around vaccine exemptions. They will be telling you everything you need to know about your vaccine exemption rights and how to find helpful resources in your state.

Speaker & Moderator Bios

Kevin Barry, Esq. has three sons, one with autism. After receiving his JD from the Hofstra University School of Law, he worked at the US Attorney’s office, Southern District of NY, civil division. He has been an autism advocate for more than a decade. He was the first President of Generation Rescue, where he worked with other advocacy organizations in an effort to make the federal Combating Autism Act useful. He is proud to work with EBCALA to advance and protect the rights of those affected by autism and their families and friends.

Mark Blaxill, MBA, is the father of a daughter diagnosed with autism, a long-time director of SafeMinds, Chairman and co-founder of the Canary Party, Editor-at-Large for Age of Autism, and a frequent speaker at autism conferences. He writes often on autism, science and public policy issues for Age of Autism and has published a number of articles, letters and commentaries on autism in journals such as Public Health Reports, the International Journal of Toxicology, the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Neurotoxicology and Medical Hypotheses. He has also been invited to peer review articles in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Epidemiology, Pediatrics and the International Journal of Toxicology. As part of his advocacy work, he has testified before the Immunization Safety Review of the Institute of Medicine (2001), served on a Blue Ribbon Panel on Vaccine Safety (2004), initiated a symposium sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences entitled “Environmental Factors in Neurodevelopmental Disorders” (2005) and a workshop sponsored by the Institute of Medicine entitled “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research” (2007). He was a panelist at a “Meeting on Evaluating Reasons for ASD Trends” co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Autism Speaks (2011). He co-authored a book on autism, called The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Man-made Epidemic, (Thomas Dunne, September 2010).

Lisa Colin, Esq. is a partner in Martin & Colin PC located in White Plains, New York, sits on the Board of EBCALA and the Board of Directors for the Westchester Law Guardian Association. She is a co-founding member of Autism Action New York and an active member of Autism Action Network. She organized an EBCALA CLE event at Pace Law School , NY and has played a pivotal role in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Justice Project. Along with her husband and business partner, she was a former radio host at a local New York station.

Louis Conte is the father of triplet boys, two with autism. He is the Director of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Justice Project and a founding advocate member of EBCALA. He serves on the board of the Autism Action Network. Mr. Conte has advocated extensively in New York for autism health insurance reform, vaccination choice and improved educational services for people with autism. In his professional life, Mr. Conte is an Assistant Commissioner in the Westchester County Department of Probation where he has administered investigation and supervision programs that focus on sex offenders and domestic violence perpetrators. He is proud to have been part of a team that established the nation’s first Sex Offense Court. Mr. Conte graduated from Iona College in 1982. He is an instructor in the Japanese Martial Art of Ju Jitsu.

Rick Ellis, PhD obtained his doctorate from the College of William and Mary. He is a Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist who specializes in ASD. He is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School and is the director of Spectrum Psychological Services, a private practice serving many children and adults on the autistic spectrum. He is a former certified teacher and former school psychologist who currently advocates for children in the classroom, at the school level, for employment and in the courts. He frequently evaluates sanity and competency in criminal cases. For family courts he addresses custody, visitation and parental capacity concerns. Dr. Ellis frequently conducts workshops for parents and professionals on issues related to ASD and forensic issues.

Karen Fessel is the proud parent of a 18 year old son with Asperger’s and 14 year old daughter. She is the executive director and founder of the Autism Health Insurance Project, a non-profit organization which helps families and providers secure insurance coverage for autism interventions. Karen founded the Autism Health Insurance Project after struggling to secure services for her son, and seeing how much an organization to support families in their journey through the insurance maze was needed to get children medically necessary services. She also co-moderates the ASDinsurancehelp, and ASDMedi-Cal yahoo users groups. She has a Doctorate in Public Health from UC Berkeley. Prior work experience include developing technology assessments and treatment guidelines for the Permanente Medical Group, and conducting research projects at the Department of Public Health and UCSF.

Rolf G. S. Hazlehurst, Esq. is an attorney and has practiced law for 18 years. His son’s case, Hazlehurst v. The United States Department of Health and Human Services was the second test case in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Mary Holland, Esq. is Research Scholar and Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program at New York University School of Law. She is a founding board member of EBCALA and currently serves as managing director. Educated at Harvard and Columbia Universities, Mary has been an advocate in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining NYU, she worked for six years at major U.S. law firms, with three years based in Moscow, Russia. Before that, she directed the European Program of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First). After graduating law school, she clerked for a federal district court judge in New York City. She researches and writes on legal issues related to autism and vaccines and is a co-editor of the book Vaccine Epidemic.

Robert Krakow, Esq.is an attorney in private practice in New York. Bob started his legal career with the New York Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization. For nine years in the 1980s Bob was a prosecutor with the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s office, serving as Bureau Chief of the special narcotics prosecution division. He founded his law firm in 1989, focusing on the trial of civil and criminal cases, and specializing in the representation of individuals injured by exposure to vaccines. Bob represents families of children with autism in a variety of venues, including insurance coverage disputes, vaccine exemption issues, IDEA education disputes with school districts, and claims of educational and medical neglect.

Mitchel D. Perlman, PhD, focuses on the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents who have specialized needs and/or who are involved in chaotic-intense-traumatic-critical situations. Known for the comprehensiveness of his investigatory assessments (psychodiagnostic, psychoeducational, neurocognitive), Dr. Perlman is often called on to be the impartial independent examiner in juvenile, family, civil and special education proceedings.

Kim Mack Rosenberg, Esq. is a litigator at a major New York City-based law firm, where her practice focuses on products liability, class actions, insurance coverage and general civil litigation. In 2009 she was recognized by the Legal Aid Society for her pro bono service. In addition to being on the board of EBCALA and the Center for Personal Rights, Kim is the President of the National Autism Association NY Metro Chapter. She is also a contributing editor of Vaccine Epidemic..

Katie Weisman is the mother of identical triplet boys who all have autism. After a career as a technical designer, she is now a full-time mom and autism advocate. She chairs a local support group for parents of children with autism and has been actively involved in state and federal legislation. All three of Katie’s sons have mercury poisoning which she believes is the primary cause of their disability. She is on the Board of Directors of SafeMinds and works part-time as the SafeMinds Director of Communications. She lives in Mt. Kisco, New York.