Parents of children who have autism know it is important that they provide their children with early and intensive treatment in order to help them thrive and improve their long term outcomes.

Unfortunately, parents whose children who have autism also know all-too-well that the cost of intensive autism treatment—which could include specialized assessments and evaluations, instruction, therapies, interventions, diets, equipment, materials and treatment-related travel expenses—could easily overwhelm budgets, deplete savings and place a family on the brink of bankruptcy.

A Los Angeles Times article cited $70,000 per child per year as a typical cost for autism treatment. The cost of a 3-year intensive autism treatment program has been estimated as high as $300,000. Although the cost of autism treatment can be staggering, through a combination of resourcefulness and determination, parents can find funding to help pay a significant portion of the costs of autism treatment. Here are some strategies for funding autism treatment:

· Pare Down Personal Expenses- Eliminate all unnecessary personal and household expenses. Minimize any expenses that cannot be eliminated. The money you save by eliminating waste and reducing costs can be used to pay for autism treatment.

· Squeeze Every Cent Possible out of Your Health Insurance Plan- Find out which autism treatment costs your health insurance will pay. File timely, thoroughly documented claims for all covered evaluations, treatments, therapies and other expenses.

· Sign-Up for a Medical Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)-Allocate the maximum dollar amount your employer will allow that you are certain you will use annually to your medical care FSA. The funds can be used to pay for autism treatment costs directly or to reimburse you for out of pocket treatment costs.

· Apply for SSI- If your child qualifies for SSI, the funds he or she receives could be used to pay a portion of the costs of autism treatment.

· See if You Qualify for Medicaid or Other State-Funded Health Care Programs- Medicaid or other state-funded health care programs could be used to pay for certain autism treatment costs.

· Apply for Financial Assistance from State and Local Human Services Agencies- Some states and municipalities offer direct payments, vouchers and other forms of assistance that could be used to fund autism treatment.

· Apply for Grants- A number of charitable organizations offer grants to help pay the costs of autism treatment.

Michelle McFarland-McDaniels provides information about grants, financial assistance, funding strategies and other resources for families coping with autism and other disabilities on her blog,
Autism Assistance Resources and Information. She also publishes Funding Autism Treatment and College Resources for Students with Autism.

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