Autism is on the rise. This is an undisputed fact. If 1 in 150 children are currently developing Autism annually, then that is 1 too many. It is, quite frankly, a horrible debilitating condition. Not just for the Autistic child, but devastating for the entire family. It requires adjustment from all members of the family as all aspects of everyone’s lives will undergo a massive upheaval.
The cost of raising a child with Autism is astronomical. ABA treatments average around 100,000 dollars per annum. The major insurance companies baulk at paying to help recover the Autistic child so parents are looking at being out of pocket at about 50,000 dollars. Even in a well paid two income family, this is still high. And notice I said major insurance companies. Some families with Autistic children are having to fight to obtain simple coverage for their impaired child, never mind attempting to get the insurance companies to pay for recognised treatments.
In a lot of families, it is impossible to have two parents working. One may have to give up their position to stay at home and look after the child. Autistic children require a lot of time and attention. Safety is a big issue and their homes may have to be reorganised to accommodate the different Autistic behaviours that the child may exhibit.
If the family chooses to go the Alternative Medicine route, all of this will have to be paid out of pocket as if it is not recognized by the Medical world, then it is not an accepted practice. Currently, you would be hard pressed to find a physician to acknowledge that there are any treatments for Autism that don’t involve medicating to control Autistic behaviours.
Other siblings may need to adjust to the amount of time required to care for the Autistic child and the fact that sometimes they are unable to do things or go on outings due to the fact that their Autistic brother or sister would not be able to handle it can lead to a bit of resentment. Also due to some Autistic behaviours, unfortunately despite parents best attempts to prevent it, some articles precious to the unaffected child may get destroyed or ruined.
It leads to little time off for the parent of an Autistic child. Their caregivers need to be specialized and a lot of times very familiar with the child to understand their non verbal cues. Approximately 40-50% of Autistic children will never speak. This leads to a great deal of frustration in a child with Autism. A caregiver or parent who is tuned into the child is able to alleviate this by having more of an idea what it is the child is asking for when they indicate. This means that in a two parent family, the parents often take turns in staying with the child thereby leaving little time for them as a couple.
In a home where there is only one parent it is both exhausting and socially isolating. Sometimes it is next to impossible for the child with Autism to go out. They don’t respond to a change in routine, loud noises or a lot of people can set off an Autistic behaviour such as screaming and/or flapping.
Also, although the public awareness of Autism has been increasing of late, there are still people who will look at you in the store and tell you to “control your child” when they are absolutely having a lay down on the floor, kicking, screaming and flailing meltdown because the lights in the store are too bright. Good luck there.
A lot of changes do have to be made. Some actually for the better. It can make the family unit stronger. It can enable you to raise siblings of Autistic children to be compassionate, kinder, more well-rounded individuals. It can introduce you to the other side of the coin and you can become more patient and tolerant of people and families with disabilities.
It may also make you as a person more vocal to advocate for families with Autistic children so they do receive some kind of financial aid and the medical world does start to recognize more Alternative forms of healing for the child with Autism thereby making insurance companies responsible, at least in part for payment.
A lot of changes are going to have to be made not just to the family with the Autistic child, but, to the community and the world at large. If the rate of Autism is at 1 in 150 children currently, who knows what it will have risen to next year
Donna Mason has been a Registered Nurse for the past 16 years. She is the mother of 6 children, 3 of whom have varying degrees of Autism. For more information on Autism signs and symptoms, and to learn more about this mother’s battle in the fight against this misunderstood condition, visit us on the web at: http://www.autisticadventures.blogspot.com
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