Monday, 11 March 2013

Decisions, Decisions

As parents, we all want to provide for our children.  As good parents, we want to offer opportunities for growth and development outside the necessities.  But where is that line?  What is a necessity and what is an enrichment activity?  It's a tough call.  We live in a pretty upper middle class area where you feel even more pressure as a parent to have your child enrolled in multiple extracurricular activities in order to offer them a level playing field to that of their peers.

Add Autism to the mix and that line between enrichment and necessity becomes even more blurred.  There have been many different types of therapies researched for kids on the spectrum that have been found to be beneficial.  There's no way I can list them all, but here are a few:  equine therapy, aquatic therapy, vision therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social skills groups, special needs sports.  The pressure on an autism parent increases because like all potential therapies for our kids, we feel a desperate drive to provide these things.  What if one of these activities really helps one of our children to make a breakthrough? 

So of course I want my kids involved in all of this.  Never gonna happen.  The boys are both in OT, which is mostly covered by insurance, but just to give you an idea, that alone (and this is just copays) comes out to $45 a week.  OK.  So swim lessons, not so bad, right?  WRONG.  For a special needs child, lessons range from $40-50 for each lesson. I have checked with all 4 local special needs options.  Equine therapy, about the same.  The boys could have speech covered by insurance, but with our insurance, they may have 60 sessions each year a piece and this encompasses speech, occupational, and physical therapy.  How on earth does that make sense?  Oh, I see your child has greater deficits than the child who only requires OT once a week.  I see your child needs both OT and speech.  OK, they can have both, but they can only go to each twice a month.  Now how is the child with greater needs going to make progress given this set of circumstances? 

Now, add to this....wait for it...two kids who could benefit from all of this.  Can someone explain to me how on earth I am to provide these opportunities for my children?  Because you see, they already require daycare, special needs daycare and guess what?  You got it- because they have special needs, it's more expensive.

When is someone going to give our families a break?  I know that our children have special needs.  I know that teaching them requires giving more of one's self.  Believe you me, I know.  Thing is, my work didn't start paying me more in order to assist me in taking care of my special needs kids, last time I checked there isn't a larger tax deduction for a child on the spectrum, and I'm pretty sure that no one has set up a trust fund for either one of my kids without telling me.  So HOW am I supposed to choose which child gets what?  Which child needs these things more?  If I won the lottery, I would be giving money to every autism family I could find.  I would be setting up a "therapy fund" for other kids with autism.  It continues to sicken me that on diagnosis, when I asked what I could do for my child, the doctor replied "how much money do you have?"

Sickens me. 

1 comment:

  1. It's sickening. There is no way in this country it should be this way---that not every child with autism can have access to the same help, that money should have anything to do with what help our children get. The way I comfort myself when thinking of all I can't give Janey is that with her "normal" brothers, I wasn't able to afford many of the extras others had either, and they are both doing well in high school and the older, a senior, has been accepted at some great colleges. I tell myself that if I had the money to do all I could for Janey, I'd still have to pick and choose, because there simply isn't enough hours in the day, and since I don't have the money, that makes the choices for me---she gets the services she can get at school. But still, it makes me angry that instead of being MORE affordable for those with special needs, extra activities are LESS affordable.