Friday, 20 August 2010
Parents of autistic children face many challenges. Aside from the worries that every mother and father must cope with (ensuring the health, happiness, and safety of their kids) parents with autistic children have daily trials that center around the inability to communicate effectively with their offspring. This can not only be trying for the adults and children involved on a physical, mental, and emotional level, it can also require great expenditures of time and money. One parent may have to stay home to avoid the hassles and cost of special-needs daycare. And then there are the medical bills. Depending on how early you diagnose and the severity of the disorder, you may incur crippling debt as a result of your child’s ongoing needs or in an attempt to give them every opportunity for a normal life through intensive treatment. The entire situation can quickly become overwhelming on many levels. Luckily, there is financial help available for parents of autistic children that will allow you to obtain the services you need and shift your focus to the important task of raising your child. But how can you take advantage of these grants?
First, you need to find them. There are several legitimate organizations that offer grants to families with autistic children between infancy and the age of 18. A few of them are the National Autism Association, which offers a 1-time grant of $1,500, Autism Cares, which gives out $1,000 grants, and the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation, which strives to cover the gap between insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses (for current and future medical expenses). In each case, monies awarded will go directly to pay medical bills rather than to the families. You can also apply for a Family Support Grant through social services (with a referral from family services) to help you pay for special living expenses such as transportation, equipment, and treatment. And some states offer grants for in-home personal care assistants, so ask your family services representative if you qualify. Sadly, there are also plenty of scams that are trying to bilk people who are desperate for assistance, so don’t be drawn in by organizations claiming that they will give you a grant only after you have paid a fee. Real grants are always free!
Depending on your income and your child’s level of disability, you may also be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through Social Security. However, if you can’t get financial assistance directly, there are still many services you can take advantage of to help you save money on treatment and other expenses. For example, you may be able to receive early intervention treatment for children under the age of three through an Early Childhood Intervention Center in your area (they are often funded by the local public school system). You can also request information from family services to apply for programs such as the Katie Beckett Waiver or Deeming Waiver that will assist in the payment of medical expenses for disabled children from families that do not qualify for Medicaid. TEFRA is a similar program that requires a small fee from the family. In addition, many private organizations such as the YMCA and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America offer fee waivers for children with disabilities so that they can participate in activities and camps. You may have to do some digging, but thanks to families speaking out about autism and the many foundations started to support them, you can find a lot of resources for information and aid.