Imagine watching your child suffer through excruciating pain and know that there was nothing you could do to help him. That is what Autumn Beardsley has been forced to do for more than a month, because Medicaid refuses to cover the cost of crowns for her son Cole’s front teeth.
Cole is a beautiful child who is also profoundly autistic. He is a 5’11”, 200lb 12-year-old with the mind of a toddler. He just learned how to speak, and he wears diapers. Autumn is a single mom with another son, 14-year-old Kendall who has autism too, but is not as impacted as his younger brother. She is disabled herself, thanks to a work injury, and her whole life revolves around taking care of her boys by herself.
That’s right, she takes care of her boys by herself because her gem of an ex-husband left her a decade ago blaming autism on his way out the door. I guess he didn’t get the “unconditional love” memo that comes with parenthood.
A few months ago Cole tripped, lost his balance, and fell on his front teeth. The fall left his front teeth broken and him in pain.
Autumn brought him to the dentist and was told that Medicaid would not cover crowns because they are “cosmetic.” You know how front teeth are totally unnecessary, right?! Yeah, me neither.
They gave him composite fillings in the front, but they fell out and his teeth became infected leaving him in unbearable pain.
The dentist told her that unless she had the money to pay for the crowns herself, the only other thing they could do is pull the teeth and give him dentures. Yeah, Medicaid, with rules that clearly do not take children with sensory issues into account, wants to give an autistic kid dentures.
Dentures for a child that can’t even have tags in his clothing because he is so sensitive it leaves him in pain. She told me that he can’t wear jeans or even socks with a seam, but Florida Medicaid thinks he can wear dentures? HA!
By the way, in order to have dental work done Cole will have to be hospitalized and put under general anesthesia. This will be covered by Medicaid only if the doctors find two other things that they can fix while he is under. Medicaid requires that there be three problems in order to cover the procedure.
Isn’t that awesome? <insert heavy sarcasm>
Desperate to help her child, she reached out to his father and asked if he could help pay for their son’s dental work. He refused, saying that he didn’t have the money. This is a guy who almost went to jail once because he was so far behind in his child support. Clearly not a man who gives a crap that his child is in pain.
What is Autumn supposed to do? She is on disability and unable to work. Clearly this is not a women who has $3,000 (the cost of the crowns) lying around. The safety net that is supposed to help people just like her and her children has failed her and now she is at a loss.
She told me that her baby has so many other things wrong with him that the thought of him living his life without his front teeth breaks her heart. She is afraid that if he doesn’t get the crowns, he will be discouraged from speaking and all the progress he has made recently will disappear.
Well, it breaks our heart too. So because her friends want Cole to get the teeth he deserves, they have set up a fundraiser to help him. If you can help, follow this link (New Front Teeth For Cole) it leads to the fundraiser page. Every dollar counts.
A child, who already suffers so much, should not be forced to suffer more because the system failed him so miserably. It is truly despicable.
Photos courtesy of Autumn Beardsley