Today is Autism Awareness Day. For those of you who don’t know, autism now affects 1 in 150 children. Autism affects everyone differently and involves challenges in communication, social skills, and behaviors. If you’re worried your child may have autism — or feel something just isn’t right — follow your instincts. Don’t assume that your child will catch up. Share your concerns with your pediatrician. Look into your state’s early intervention program. Get a diagnosis. And seek support from community service and treatment provider.
Several Barnes and Noble stores are featuring the book Since We’re Friends during story time in April. I’ve had a chance to read it and it’s a wonderful story of two friends, on who has autism, and the bond they share. It’s a great book for explaining to young children what autism is and what it is not.
Today was a horrible day at work. Therapy and preschool for children with autism and other disabilities is expensive to provide. Each year we have to fundraise in excess of $300,000 to be able to offer these services affordably in our community. As reimbursements dwindle that number grows. We’re having to take a hard look at what we will and will not be able to continue. We’re not stopping services yet, just having to take hard looks at things. We are the only provider in our community that can handle kiddos who are medically fragile – feeding tubes, oxygen, heart monitors, etc. The actual cost for these kids to attend preschool is approximately $500 per week… what parent can afford that! Let’s face it, a lot of parents of a child with a disability are young, starting their careers and need insurance from two jobs to help cover the medical costs. These people need our services. From a business model it looks like hell on paper.. but some things don’t translate in numbers. What price do you put on the kiddos like Hanna who came to us three years ago at 18 months. She was non-verbal and couldn’t walk. Now she’s trying to decide between playing soccer or t-ball this summer… and she’ll tell you all about it.