After a lack of response from Unimed Natal, parents of autistic people again mobilize: ‘We are exhausted’ – 05/12/2022 – News

Maria Clara Pimentel

news reporter

Children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are having access to less and less therapies offered by Unimed Natal coverage. The withdrawal of services began in early April. After holding a demonstration in front of the cooperative’s headquarters and even arranging a meeting with directors, parents and guardians of the children claim that they have not advanced in their demands. Now they are organizing for yet another protest on the city streets.

Magnus Nascimento
On the 14th, parents staged a protest in front of the cooperative's headquarters

On the 14th, parents staged a protest in front of the cooperative’s headquarters

The group intends to hold a demonstration on Avenida Salgado Filho, close to one of the largest shopping malls in the city, located in the East zone. According to Jessi Dantas, one of the mothers at the head of the movement, the purpose of the protest is to draw attention to the problem, since the cooperative refuses to give an answer on how to solve the problem.

“It’s no use wanting to talk to them anymore, what are we going to talk about? We exposed everything. We made a booklet to guide the parents, we proposed to do what they needed, as a form of support. They blamed the clinics, but in fact it’s everyone’s fault and it’s the children who are being penalized”, denounced the mother, who is also a nurse.

After a protest in front of Unimed’s headquarters, the parents managed to meet with the cooperative’s directors on April 20th. At the time, it was justified that the organization was undergoing internal restructuring and that the situation would soon be resolved. Almost a month later, the parents report that the problem has worsened.

“Unimed’s president said that he was sensitized, that it was just an internal issue that they were trying to resolve. In fact, it’s nothing like that, they don’t answer us anymore, on the contrary, the answer they give is to cancel more and more therapies. So we already understood the message”, denounces Jessi Dantas, mother of Lis, almost three years old.


So far, in about a month, six therapies have been removed from the list of Unimed Natal, being Physical Education, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), DENVER, Therapeutic Swimming, Music Therapy and Hydrotherapy, in addition to Assistance Therapeutics (ATs) in a home and school environment.

Lis, age 2, was doing Denver therapy at home.  The method has as main purpose the social interaction

Lis, age 2, was doing Denver therapy at home. The method has as main purpose the social interaction

Lis, Jessi’s daughter, had a hard time when she was without her assistance at school. “She spent two months with her legs full of bruises, because she threw herself against the wall and the floor. She was totally dysregulated at school,” she explains. With the lack of a professional to provide therapeutic assistance, it was up to the school to know how to take care of the little one, which is difficult when the faculty is not trained to do so. “It was a very complicated period, because the school didn’t know how to deal with it. I had to do several meetings to explain to them how it should happen”, says Jessi.

For children who are used to therapeutic assistance, seeing this taken away from them can be very painful, as the autistic person is very attached to their routine. “He had that routine, he knew he had that support, that he had confidence in that person and suddenly he is alone, he was totally deregulated”, explains nurse Jesi Dantas.

‘abusive practice’

On April 28, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) issued a recommendation to the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS) to adopt measures to guarantee the proper care of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (TEA) by the Unimed health plan. Christmas. However, there is no general legal definition that actually obliges plans to offer all therapies.

Last Friday (6), the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) considered abusive, once again, the denial of health plan coverage of treatment considered appropriate for patients with autism. The decision condemned Unimed Rio, from Rio de Janeiro.

According to Airton Ferraz, a lawyer who represents some patients, the decisions of the state courts of justice are always unanimous in punishing health plans that do not guarantee the specific treatment of autistic children, condemning cooperatives that fail to provide services to pay compensation for moral damages. In practice, however, this is of little value, because those who take legal action in these cases are a minority. All patients who do not take this route have to pay for medical treatment outside the health plan.

The TRIBUNA DO NORTE report contacted the Unimed Natal press office for an official position, but there was no response so far. The space remains open for the company’s manifestation.

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