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Autism Center threatened to temporarily close

By Olivia Wilmsen, Multimedia Journalist, olivia.wilmsen@krdo.com
Published On: Oct 11 2013 07:31:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 11 2013 07:49:08 PM CDT

The Colorado Autism Center in Colorado Springs will keep its doors open through Wednesday (10/16). The center is trying to work out a deal with its health care provider or it is in danger of closing.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Breathing a little easier, military families with autistic children have a few more days until they might need to start worrying again. The Colorado Autism Center in Colorado Springs will keep its doors open through Wednesday (10/16).

The center is trying to work out a deal with its health care provider or it is in danger of closing. The Colorado Autism Center's CEO says UnitedHealthcare has not paid all of its claims. Now, there's not enough money to keep the center up and running.

Maggie Barrentine's seven-year-old son Luke has been battling autism since he was three.

"He was having multiple meltdowns every single day,” said Barrentine.

In April, Maggie signed up Luke at the Colorado Autism Center.

"This is the first year that he's sitting down and actually doing homework,” said Barrentine.

But on Thursday (10/10), she got a letter from the center warning parents it may have to shut down temporarily because of financial issues.

"The first thing I did was go to outrage. You can't take this away from him and from us."

The Abercrombie family is in the same boat.

"He's made a lot of progress since he's come here,” said Reese Abercrombie.

Her four-year-old Carl also struggles with autism. The center has given her family hope.

"He's learned social skills. He's learned behavioral skills,” said Abercrombie.

Newschannel 13 tried contacting United Healthcare several times. They have not returned calls or emails.

"It's not something where you can just pick up and go from one doctor to another,” said Steven Abercrombie, Reese’s husband.

Steven says he signed up for another four years in the Army.

"Because of the way that the Army does take care of its own and take care of its families,” said Abercrombie.

However, now he worries about his son's future with the Autism Center in limbo.

"It's just sad to me to see what amounts to what I've been hearing being paperwork issues, holding up important family services,” said Abercrombie.

The two parties will meet again on Wednesday to try to resolve the issue. If they can't come to an agreement, the Autism Center says it will have to temporarily close.

Unitedhealthcare Military and Veterans services took over the insurance program for the center in April.

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