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Lewiston family sues DHHS over daughter's treatment

Deanna Kane of Lewiston says DHHS will not allow her daughter Brenna who has autism, a life-altering treatment plan she is currently receiving out of state.

LEWISTON, Maine — Deana Kane is suing the Department of Health and Human Services over the treatment of her daughter, Brenna.

Brenna has autism, and Kane said her daughter was so violent, she started hurting herself even blinding herself in one eye.

"It's incredibly painful. You learn to do everything you can to stay ahead of it, to never make her upset, then you begin to live in fear," said Kane.

Brenna was put in an institution in Maryland, where a treatment plan called Applied Behavior Analysis was used. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the therapy encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors. Kane said since the treatment, Brenna's problem behaviors were reduced from hundreds per day to sometimes none at all.

"She's happy, she's no longer hurting herself," said Kane.

The Lewiston mom now wants to bring her daughter back to Maine but says the Department of Health and Human Services will not allow Brenna to have the same treatment plan.

Kane filed a million-dollar lawsuit against DHHS, saying the state is abusing and neglecting her daughter by not allowing her this life-altering treatment. 

"She has the right to have quality care. If she had it we wouldn't even be here," said Kane.

DHHS said they will not comment on pending litigation, but adds "MaineCare covers Applied Behavior Analysis, including in community settings."

Kane disagrees, saying the vast majority of the plan Brenna needs, is not covered.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Kane said rules for her daughters therapies differ from each state, and DHHS said certain parts of the treatment plan were not allowed under Maine law and other regulations. The lawsuit did not specify which therapies were disputed, but did say Maine officials cited a law that generally prohibits anyone from denying people with intellectual disabilities or autism their personal property.

Kane fears without her daughter's treatment plan, Brenna will go back to hurting herself and having hundreds of violent episodes a day.

"She's a super loving kid. She likes to read, she reads really well, she likes to do arts and crafts, she goes completely blind, what do we do then?" said Kane.

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