When you have a child with special needs your life begins to change. Children are expensive there is no way around it. When you have an autistic child your regular expenses such as food, medication, transportation and household items have just doubled. There are some things you should remember in order to make raising your autistic child easier on you both emotionally and financially. There are a few things that you are going to need to do, the first is to get the diagnosis. Once you have done that there are a few things that you may want to look into. You will also have to remember that your income might decrease as autistic children need one on one time despite their resistance to it.
2. Gluten/Casein Free Diet
4. Supplemental Social Security Income
5. Support Groups
There are at least three therapies that your child is going to have to undergo depending on the severity of the autism. Occupational, Applied Behavioral Analysis and Speech Therapy. There are resources available to assist with each of these. Pray you have insurance, ABA therapy is not covered by Medicade and is from $35 to $55 an hour. Occupational Therapy is covered but some of the therapist require you to pay out of pocket because so little of it is covered. Speech is covered for thirty minutes at a time.
Speech Therapy can help autistic children with no speech, echolacia or spontaneous speech. This therapy can be worked into the daily routine by having children repeat at least one word of what you said in order to get what you are offering. ABA can be worked into the home speech therapy easily if compliance is what you are working on. All you have to do is make sure that the child makes the sign or sound for what they want. You must remember to give praise for a job well done.
When it comes to occupational therapy you start slow with little things like giving them a broken crayon in order to teach them to hold a pencil correctly. This will work itself out with the hand eye coordination. You just have to keep in mind that when ever it’s possible to schedule therapy appointments close together in order to save on gasoline especially if one or more therapies are being received at the same place.
Another option for therapy is a special needs preschool. These half day programs are free of charge as part of the public school system and can increase the amount of therapy and social interaction that your autistic child has. If they are on a special diet you will have to pack their snack to ensure they aren’t getting anything they aren’t supposed to get.
Gluten/Casein Free Diet
The Gluten/Casein Free Diet is something that you should discuss with your doctor and a nutritionist. This diet has been helpful to some children with autism but I must warn you that it can be costly if you are not careful. The diet removes milk, milk products, wheat, barley, rye and processed oats from the diet. There are special foods to replace your favorites and some day to day items that you can purchase to keep the diet gluten casein free. Some parents of autistic children also remove dyes from the diet as it makes them hyper, if the child has problems processing other foods they will remove them as well.
Ready made packages of gluten/casein free foods can be costly when you get into the cookies, pancakes, waffles and even chicken nuggets. An alternative is to buy the gluten free baking mixes and a few of the ready made for emergencies. You’ll want to sample a few items from the local health food store and buy as much as possible from the local grocery store especially if they have a gluten free section. There are also a number of websites these products can be purchased from, you just need to make sure you compared the cost per item correctly and do your best to find free shipping. If you can’t find free shipping figure out if it’ll cost you less than the amount you would spend on gas for your car to go to the individual stores.
Fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs and grits are among the gluten free items that you can find at the local grocery store with ease. You can have the basics for example at breakfast you can give your autistic child an egg with gluten casein free cheese (if they won’t eat it any other way), bacon and grits. At lunch your child can have a hot dog and some plain potato chips as long as you check the label, snack time can be dried or fresh fruit with a cup of juice.
If your autistic child is not intolerant you soy you can keep it on hand to cook with instead of the more costly rice or almond milk. The almond milk tastes better and you have a choice of chocolate or vanilla which comes in shelf milk versions that store for approximately a year without being refrigerated so you can stock up when they are on sale.
These are specially formulated supplements. Some of them include a multivitamin, vitamin C, calcium, fish oil and probiotics to name a few. These are the basics there may be more depending on the blood panel results for the child. There are the most expensive when you first begin and have to purchase all of them at once.
Autistic children don’t absorb nutrients the same way that other people do and when you take the milk products away they lose the calcium that they were getting. This makes getting them started on Biomedicals with the assistance of your doctor important. When it comes to the cost of these supplements you might need to reevaluate your budget to include them.
Supplemental Security Income
Autism is considered a disability and it is one that is looked at very closely by social security. Apply for your child. They can send you a check each month to assist in covering the cost of the therapies, diet and biomedical supplements. As long as your child qualifies for even $1 of SSI they qualify for Medicaid which is rather useful with the costs of therapy especially if you can’t afford to pay out of pocket. Just remember if you have additional insurance Medicaid is always the primary coverage to ensure that all expenses (or at least as many as possible) are covered.
There are a number of autism support groups. Join at least one and the autism society. The support groups put you in contact with people that share your situation, the autism society keeps you informed about local events and resources available to you.