Having a child diagnosed on the
Autism spectrum is difficult and heart breaking for parents. There are so many
unknowns with which to contend. How functional will the child be as an adult?
How severe is their specific diagnosis? As a spectrum of developmental
disorders, diagnoses can range from classic autism to high functioning autism,
from Asperger’s syndrome to Pervasive Developmental Delay. Each has different challenges
and potential outcomes in terms of a child’s development and later
independence. Once the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off, however, there
are additional challenges in terms of paying for treatments and therapies.
For a young family without
healthcare insurance, an autism diagnosis can be even more difficult to face.
Treatment for autism includes occupational therapy, play/socialization therapy,
behavior modification therapies, visits to developmental pediatricians,
neurologists, psychologists, and even psychiatrists when needed. Children on
the spectrum may need a variety of medications at different times in their
development to help with things such as anxiety, impulse control, and other
challenges. It often takes a team of medical and developmental professionals
for a child on the spectrum to reach their full potential and learn to overcome
some of their challenges. These multidisciplinary teams and their suggested
treatment options are expensive for someone without insurance.
Even those families who have
health insurance often struggle with overwhelming costs not covered by medical
insurance. Adaptive toys, therapeutic equipment, and home safety devices are
often not covered. Children with autism are characteristically wanderers, requiring
parents to invest in specially designed home security systems that warn them if
their child opens a door or window during the night or while the parent isn’t
looking. These systems can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Likewise,
therapeutic tools such as weighted clothing and sun lamps for sensory issues
are not covered by every healthcare insurance plan.
Numerous organizations and
charities can assist with out of pocket expenses relative to an autism spectrum
diagnosis. There are loaner programs for equipment, charities which help find
donated equipment, toys, and home therapy tools. There are also nonprofit
organizations that can assist with respite care, play therapy, and appropriate
day care arrangements for children on the spectrum. For families who are
uninsured, underinsured, or simply cannot bear the burden of out of pocket
expenses, the best place to start is your local community health agencies. The
health department, department of human resources or family and …