CREATIVE FUNDING FOR ABA INTERVENTIONS
By Carolyn Cordes
I have a son, Connor, who turned 3 in October
2003, and we finally got the diagnosis
of Autism in that
same month. I believe Applied
Behavior Analysis is the best therapy for my child, but funding
it is a big issue. I wanted to share some innovative ideas for finding
funding for an in-home ABA program. I hope you find an idea here
that will help you get the help you need for your child.
First, try your insurance company. Read your plan
carefully and call to talk to a representative to find out if a
program like this has ever been covered. If you're not satisfied
with the answer you receive, you do have rights to appeal their
decision. You'll have to research the laws in your state to find
out what they are required to pay for. Unfortunately, our insurance
is self-funded, which means they aren't subject to most of the laws
in our state designed to oversee HMO's and PPO's. Our insurance
company has told me that this type of therapy would probably be
covered under mental health, which only provides for 30 visits to
a clinic per year under our plan. We are hoping this will help pay
for visits to a clinic to get an evaluation, training, and guidance
from a certified behavior therapist.
If you live near a university or community college,
try to recruit students who are majoring in special education or
elementary education to act as the day-to-day "therapists."
Talk to the professors to see if you can get them to include it
as extra credit if the students volunteered for your program. Post
flyers on the campus that say something general like "Looking
for volunteers to work with 3 year old child with Autism in an in-home
ABA program." Try to put them in the buildings where these
students would have most of their classes.
We're currently trying to recruit students from
a program called the "Low Incidence Program." This program
is designed to teach them how to work with children with disabilities
that are relatively uncommon, Autism being one of those disabilities.
Many of these students will already have training in ABA so they
may be able to start right away without extensive training. They
will need training in the future, but it would get you started.
And even if they don't volunteer to work for free, they won't charge
as much as a certified therapist or clinic.
check out available services and sources of funding
I live in Texas, and here we have a state agency
called "Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR)."
They had a program called "In Home Family Support," which
gave some families a grant to start up their home program. I have
heard recently that this program has been cut, so if you live in
Texas, this may no longer be an option. If you live in another state,
research everything you can about state agencies that provide services
to people with disabilities. You can save yourself a little time
by contacting other parents or your local ARC. Find your local chapter
at http://www.thearc.org. They are an organization that does advocacy
work for people with intellectual disability and other developmental
disabilities. They may be able to point you in the right direction
for finding funding through state agencies.
fund raising ventures
I recently talked with the director of a group
here called the Family Support Network, and she gave me some really
good ideas on how to get funding. If you can't find anyone who will
volunteer for free, you may want to try raising funds to pay him
or her through local civic clubs. We are working on writing letters
to the area Rotary Club, Lions Club, Elks Lodge, etc. Try anyone
in your area who does charity work. If you can, get a letter from
your child's pediatrician, any other specialists they may have seen,
the Autism specialist (in-home trainer), and anyone else you can
think of. Get them to write a letter stating their support for this
program for your child. If they've never heard of it (my pediatrician
wasn't entirely sure what it was), give them the information they
need. If you have a local F.E.A.T. (Families for Early Autism Treatment)
group, they can help you with getting the information. They may
also be able to point you to where people have gotten funding before.
The main webpage for FEAT is http://www.feat.org. They have links
to all the FEAT groups around the US and Canada.
If you need money, it is out there. It's a matter
of presenting the evidence and appealing to those people in your
community who participate in charity on a regular basis. You probably
won't get all the money from one place, but if one club sends you
a check for $500 and another for $1000, you'll be on your way. We're
also looking into getting several families together and organizing
a fun run or "bike for Autism" event. I've been told it's
not that hard to start up your own non-profit organization. If you
can get in touch with the other families in your school district
who have children with Autism, you could try and all get together
and organize an event.
Story supplied by Gary J. Heffner, creator of The Autism Home Page at MSN Groups.
Click here for the full range of Asperger's and autism fact sheets and personal stories
here to read the fact sheet about creating low cost early interventions
for your child
Click here to
read more personal stories from parents of children on the autism spectrum
Visit http://groups.msn.com/TheAutismHomePage/environmental.msnw which is the autism home page of Gary Heffner, the author of this
article. This personal story remains under his copyright and is
used with his permission. You are encouraged to visit his site as
it is one of the few autism websites offering free comprehensive