Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why Does Autism Intervention Have to be so Expensive?

We understand the negative reactions being voiced over CNN’s reported cost of $20,000 for RES-Q (Autism 911), but there is more to the story. In fact, the cost is $2500 per day and is usually completed in five days (which was the length of time for Marissa's intervention).

RES-Q is actually a very tiny part of the work we do. Out of more than 300 children we see yearly, an average of only 5 will need the intensive in-home intervention. The families who have participated in RES-Q have been able to obtain funding for the intervention through a variety of means. One of the reasons why funding agencies recognize the value of and need for this intervention is that it often means the difference between continuing to live at home vs. requiring residential placement.

We work diligently to keep costs as low as possible, but we are not willing to sacrifice the quality of services. To develop staff with the level of expertise and training that Rick has is costly. Although it might seem as simple as sending a therapist out for a few hours, there is extensive support and time behind the scenes to ensure a successful outcome for treatment. The intervention is a team effort which includes psychologists with more than 30 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults with ASD.

Those of us who founded Autism Partnership and all of our staff members did not enter this field out of a desire to get rich. If that was the goal, we would have chosen other fields. We take seriously our commitment to helping parents and their children. We provide a variety of services including direct intervention, parent support, and consultations in schools to help teachers and school districts provide effective education. We work collaboratively with funding agencies so that parents get financial support and can afford the intervention that is so vital to their child. We also conduct low fee and free workshops, as well as writing books to help families.

Our goal in participating in the CNN report was for parents to see that there is hope, that children can change. As Marissa’s mom said, she didn’t realize that Marissa could be capable of accomplishing so much. We are thrilled that Autism Partnership was able to help Marissa and her family. It is gratifying that they are able to enjoy life in ways they thought were not possible. Children with Autism have amazing potential. Our job is showing parents and teachers how to help them achieve the high quality of life they deserve.