- I speak with several newly diagnosed parents each week, and I encourage each of them to focus their efforts on securing effective treatment for their child at any cost. Then after that is done, figure out how to get it paid for. Some possible funding options:
- It is possible for state programs, such as early childhood and the school district, to take the money they would have spent on your child and apply it toward helping pay your private treatment.
- It is possible to have the insurance company chip in some or cover most.
- It is possible for some to have Medicaid waivers.
- The federal government helps a little with tax deductions for high medical costs.
In addition to these options, Bernoski encourages single parents to consider living with their parents or siblings for a few years as it may be very tough for one parent to earn a living while also managing the early years of autism treatment.
For Bernoski, despite success in acquiring funding, those first few years of managing an autism diagnosis were hard on both his pocketbook and his marriage. It's important to note, however, that neither need be the case.
These days, many states have begun to require insurance companies to pay for certain autism treatments, and your state may well be one of them. Many schools are offering a variety of autism-related therapies (occupational, physical, speech and social) as part of their "free and appropriate education" package. Several types of therapy can be implemented by parents and/or volunteers who can be trained at low or no cost.
In short, before you open your pocketbook to pay out huge therapy bills, do your homework. It may be that you need never go in to debt to help your child reach his potential.
Interview with Mike Bernoski, September 2008