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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Autism Treatments and Poverty

Tax and Public Benefit Eligibility Reforms Needed to Help Families Affected By Autism Avoid Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day. Bloggers worldwide have united to blog about poverty. Many families affected by autism are currently facing poverty. Many more families are only a few paychecks away from financial ruin. I am hopeful that lawmakers and policymakers will read this post and make some changes to both public benefit eligibility criteria and tax laws. Families of children who have autism should be able to both obtain treatment necessary to improve their children’s lives and meet their other financial obligations. Parents should not have to choose between helping their children thrive and keeping a roof over their heads.

Autism treatment is expensive. The cost of ABA, speech therapy, occupational therapy and other therapies, interventions and equipment used to improve the functioning and quality of life of people who have autism typically costs thousands of dollars. In fact, the cost of intensive autism treatment could easily exceed a typical family’s annual housing, transportation and food costs combined.

Not surprisingly, many families affected by autism cannot afford to provide the treatments their children need. Overwhelming autism treatment costs combined with gaps in health insurance coverage lead some families of children who have autism to refinance mortgages, sell cars, deplete savings, make hardship withdrawals from 401ks and file for bankruptcy. University of Missouri researcher Deanna Sharpe reported cases of families skipping meals in order afford autism treatment.

[FULL STORY AT AUTISM ASSISTANCE BLOG]

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