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Locals lobby for passage of Ava’s Law

POSTED: February 6, 2014 6:32 p.m.
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Shaw Wilkerson shows off the banner signed by supporters to get Ava’s Law, House Bill 309, passed by the General Assembly.

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A contingent from Effingham County traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday to show their support for autism insurance reform.

They joined others from around the state for Autism Day at the Capitol to lobby lawmakers to pass House Bill 309, known as Ava’s Law.

Ava Bullard was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and was denied insurance coverage for her treatment. Her mother Anna Bullard has been working since 2009 to change that.

Georgia is one of only 16 states that does not require insurers to pay for autism therapy. Ava’s Law would require state-regulated health plans to cover medically necessary services for the evaluation, assessment, testing, screening, diagnosing and treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

The supporters who made the trip from Effingham are members of the Effingham County Navigator Team, a support group for parents and their special-needs children and their siblings. Attending were Shaw Wilkerson, who has autism, his mother Vicki Wilkerson, and four other people with loved ones who are autistic, Tim Forbes, Ashlie Kicklighter, Jason Nobles and Pauline Shaw.

Despite the challenges of his autism, Shaw Wilkerson leads the local outreach ministry My Father’s House. His mother credited him with inspiring others during the visit to the Capitol.

“Everyone said Shaw was a powerful voice asking for support so that every child has access to the same tools he had, so they, too, can reach their full potential,” Vicki Wilkerson said.

The Effingham County Navigator Team meets every second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at The Learning Treehouse in Rincon. For more about the organization, visit


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