Sunday, July 6, 2008

Welcome to Autism Assistance Resources and Information!

Welcome to the Autism Assistance Resources and Information! My name is Michelle McFarland-McDaniels. I live in Chicago with my husband and our two preteen daughters, both of whom have been diagnosed with Autism.

Lisa Jo Rudy, the guide to autism, addressed the costs associated with autism treatment in her blog today. Her central question—and the title of her post was—“How much money is enough to cover the costs of autism treatment?” As the mother of two children who have autism, I know firsthand that it takes a lot of money to cover the costs of autism treatment.

While some people might think the figure of $70,000 for one year of treatment for autism Rudy cited is excessive, once you figure in the costs of evaluations, visits to pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, neurologists, gastroenterologists, psychologists, nutritionists, speech therapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy, DIR/Floortime therapy, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) consultants, ABA instructors, Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) training and instruction, assistive technology and augmentation communication devices…it’s easy to see how fast it can all add up. I personally know parents who use combinations of many of these therapies, treatments and interventions as well as many others such as biomedical interventions, special diets, nutritional supplements and Pivotal Response Training (PRT).

Often families have to travel in order to obtain treatment or diagnostic evaluations at specialized facilities. In the past year alone, my family has traveled to Alabama, Michigan, Texas and California to obtain treatment for one of our daughters. This adds the costs of airfares, ground transportation, hotel accommodations and meals to the cost of treatment.

Families of children with autism often have to invest in fencing, alarms and alert systems to protect their children. They also frequently have to enlist the assistance of special education advocates or attorneys who have expertise in special education issues in order to ensure that their children will receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

As a parent who has encountered these issues personally as well as vicariously through friends who are also the parents of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, related disorders and other disabilities, I know how overwhelming it is to contend with the cost of financing treatment for autism. Over the course of the nearly twelve years that autism has been part of my life, I have also come to know how difficult it is to locate information and resources to help families find ways to provide their children with the therapies, treatments, interventions and equipment they need in order to thrive.

My goal is to help other parents and caregivers of children with Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders, related disorders and other disabilities find grants and other resources to help their children thrive. My ultimate goal is to help all families coping with autism by making it easier, faster and more convenient to find information and resources that will be of service and of benefit to them.

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