By Heartland News
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A large crowd along with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon gathered Wednesday at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new autism center.
The Southeast Missouri State University Missouri Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment is located on N. Fountain St. in Cape Girardeau.
The center becomes the fourth of its kind in the state, giving the many families and children in the area who need services a resource closer to home.
It's a celebration of something people at the event say is definitely needed.
The new center opened in January, and dozens are already seeking treatment.
They provide services from the pre-school years through adulthood.
Marilyn Cox's son Brian is 39. He is already benefiting from the center.
"He is growing tremendously in services here. He's in music therapy. I can see such a change every week when I come," said Cox.
She says if this would have been around 30 plus years ago it would have saved her family countless trips out of state.
"We spent $1000's a month, and costs to travel between here and Pennsylvania," said Cox.
Now, other families don't have to travel so far and there's some financial relief available.
"With the help of the General Assembly we've passed legislation requiring insurance companies to cover diagnosis and treatment of autism," said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
Nixon signed ceremonial copies of the bill at the grand opening.
It's something that won't help Marilyn Cox now, but she's comforted knowing other families will benefit.
"It'll keep families like the Governor said from having a second and third and fourth mortgage, and going into debt for the rest of their lives," said Cox.
"We have families who are already receiving services and we will now begin billing insurance and they will immediately see relief for out of pocket expenses," said Center Director Connie Hebert.