Intervention Timeline and Cost

Duration of intervention and associated treatment costs for individuals with autism

There is no way to tell how long a child with autism will require intervention without a thorough assessment. There are many treatments available for individuals with autism, many of which are covered by insurance or government assistance. There are also private care options for autism treatment. There are programs which claim to be able to cure autism, which are not credible with any scientific panel. There are many ways to make positive progress toward overcoming the challenges associated with a spectrum diagnosis. These treatment options include medical, behavioral and educational.

Individuals with autism experience developmental changes as they grow older. Some of these are hormonal and physical changes while others are responsive changes. Hormonal and physical changes occur naturally with age. Responsive changes are dependent upon education, intervention and structure. Responsive changes may not occur at developmentally appropriate times, and are therefore out of sync with many physical changes. This is especially true in severe cases of ASD, as well as in cases of comorbidity. Intervention would be appropriate for this individual, even if services were offered and completed at an earlier age.

An individual with autism who has experienced a lengthy delay in developing functional communication may resort to tantrum behaviors during adolescence or adulthood. The individuals with autism are physically larger and stronger as they physically mature than when the tantrum behavior was developmentally appropriate, such as during infant or toddler years. A child may master functional communication if he has access to early intervention, but may relapse in later age as hormonal changes occur. Intervention would be appropriate to reduce tantrum behavior and improve functional communication so that the person with autism is not a danger to himself or others.

Interventions for autism can be extremely expensive. However, many treatments are covered in educational costs. According to federal education code, every child in the United States is entitled to a “free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment”. (Code of Federal Regulations, Education) Speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological testing, para-educator support (one-on-one aide in classroom), adaptive physical education and individual educational planning are included in public school education for the student with autism.

Additional supports are outside the realm of education. These are often covered by state health care, either covered through social security, state disability or regional service centers. These centers, which are funded by the state and federal governments, cover the cost of in home support services, respite care, family education, medical care and accessories, personal assistance and dietary costs for the individual with autism. Under the qualifying diagnosis, a child who has not mastered potty training within a developmentally appropriate amount of time would be eligible to have the cost of diapers covered by these services. These costs add up for the family and are directly related to the diagnosis. In order to maintain a balanced society which does not financially discriminate or exploit the disabled, people with specified disorders are able to claim these costs in their state of residence.

Private schools and programs may be very costly. Many private autism therapy groups offer behavioral services, which cost thousands of dollars per client per year. Equestrian, or hippotherapy, are even more costly. These can be as much as several hundred dollars per session or treatment program step.

While there is no way to determine the necessary length of treatment, the costs can be quite manageable. Privatized and public services for autism intervention hire the same professionals to offer services. The first step to obtaining services is to call the local center for disabilities. Regional centers are located throughout the country, and assist clients with opening cases. Advocacy services are often included in these programs.

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