What You Need to Know About Autism, Health Insurance, and Mental Health Parity Law

What You Need to Know About Autism, Health Insurance, and Mental Health Parity Law


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Wednesday, April 20, 2022
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. ET
Location: Zoom

Webinar Description:

In some states and at the federal level, multiple laws offer significant benefits to individuals with autism seeking insurance coverage for evidence-based care. One such law is the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which passed Congress in 2008 but is only recently seeing enhanced enforcement for people with disabilities. Join us for a practical legal discussion tailored for the autism community on the protections offered by mental health parity laws. Learn what insurance practices are prohibited and what you should do if you encounter such prohibited practices. 

This is a webinar sponsored by AUCD's Autism Special Interest Group for Autism Acceptance Month. 


Photo of Lorri Shealy, a smiling woman with blonde hair wearing a blue button down

Lorri Shealy Unumb, Esq. 
Chief Executive Officer, The Council of Autism Service Providers 

Lorri Shealy Unumb is an executive leader, lawyer, professional speaker, law professor, mother of three teenage boys, and an internationally renowned autism advocate. 

She began her legal career clerking for a United States District Judge in Charleston, South Carolina, then moved to Washington, D.C., to practice law with the United States Department of Justice. She enjoyed a fulfilling career as an appellate litigator, arguing civil cases in Circuit Courts all over the United States. 

After two academic stints at law schools in D.C. (George Washington University) and Charleston, Lorri began running and teaching advocacy courses at the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center. She hosted an award-winning weekly cable TV show called “The Law with Professor Lorri.”  

Following her firstborn son’s diagnosis with autism, Lorri began working in autism advocacy as a volunteer, writing ground-breaking autism insurance legislation for South Carolina (“Ryan’s Law”) that passed in 2007 and served as the catalyst for the national movement toward autism insurance reform. In recognition of Ryan’s Law, Lorri was awarded the Autism Society of America 2008 “Parents of the Year” award (along with her husband Dan). She then was recruited by the New York-based nonprofit Autism Speaks to advocate full-time on behalf of individuals with autism.  As the national head of state government affairs, she testified more than 100 times on various autism issues in legislatures throughout the United States and beyond and led an autism insurance reform effort that resulted in 50 states requiring insurance coverage for autism by 2019. 

Alongside her career with Autism Speaks, in 2010 Lorri founded the Autism Academy of South Carolina, a non-profit, year-round diagnostic and treatment center for individuals with autism; in 2019, the board of directors voted to rename the academy “The Unumb Center for Neurodevelopment” in honor of Lorri & Dan’s extensive national contributions in the autism field. Lorri & Dan also wrote the first-ever comprehensive textbook on legal issues related to autism, called “Autism and the Law.”  Additionally, Lorri is in her 15th year of organizing and conducting the annual “Autism Law Summit,” a national gathering of parents and professionals who advocate for legal and policy changes to better the lives of individuals with autism. Finally, in 2018, Lorri was appointed by the governor of South Carolina to serve as a Commissioner for the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, which administers several of the state’s Medicaid waivers.  

In 2019, Lorri was recruited by the nonprofit trade association The Council of Autism Service Providers; as CEO, she has led the association into a period of rapid growth, increased visibility, and international expansion. 

For her local, national, and international advocacy efforts, Lorri has been recognized with  

  • the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award;  

  • the Jefferson Award for Public Service (Charleston, SC);  

  • the Professional Women in Advocacy “Excellence in a State Campaign” 2014 Award; and 

  • the Civitan International “World Citizenship” 2021 Award.   

Her work has been profiled on CNN, on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and in Town&Country magazine, from whom she received one of three 2009 “Women Who Make a Difference” awards.  She is also profiled in the American Academy of Pediatrics book “Autism Spectrum Disorders:  What Every Parent Needs to Know.” 

Lorri is a magna cum laude/Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of South Carolina (Journalism, 1990; Political Science 1990; Law 1993). 


Please Note:

  • There is no cost for this webinar.
  • CEUs are not offered for this webinar.
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