Right after we got married and before we started a family, Chad and I moved to Connecticut. He had received a job offer that increased his responsibilities and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to seize. When we moved here, our only concerns were the job that Chad had been offered, the fact that I didn’t yet have a job (but was offered one shortly after our move), and where we were going to live. We rented a small duplex for a while before buying a house of our own.
The early intervention services that Connecticut provided wasn’t at all a factor in deciding to move here. Now, the services that a state provides for children on the autism spectrum is the first factor in any future moves that we will make. We are very, very blessed to have landed in a state that places high priority on making early intervention services affordable and accessible for any family that wants to receive them. While Nate receives autism therapy, the program, known here as Birth to Three, provides assistance to any child who needs help whether it be for a hearing impairment, speech delays, premature birth, or any other developmental delay.
The other day on Facebook, which is often my only daily interaction with non-therapist adults, I mentioned that a seventh therapist has joined Nate’s team. A friend wrote back saying how glad she was that we had “resources,” implying that we were financially well-off, which allowed us to give Nate a better shot in life. I’m here to tell you all: we are not rich and we are not well off. The only reason we can give Nate these opportunities is because of Birth to Three. For less than the cost of two full hours of therapy a month, Nate receives sixty hours of therapy from seven therapists every 30 days. Families who make $45,000 or more (we do) pay a sliding scale monthly fee, the State of Connecticut contributes a portion, and our health insurance pays a portion out of a State-mandated pool of money set aside for children with autism. The benefits paid by our insurance for Nate do not affect his personal health insurance benefits. If we were not fortunate enough to have health insurance, the parent portion of the fee doubles with the remainder picked up by the State.
In 2009, the year Nate was born, Connecticut enacted legislation that requires insurance coverage for autism. At the time, Connecticut was the thirteenth state in our nation to do this. It means that we can get private autism therapy sessions for the cost of a co-pay ($10). Though ten bucks sounds like nothing, Nate’s current schedule would cost $400 a month.
We know of a family in a state that does not offer these services nor does their state require insurance coverage for autism. Their son was diagnosed at two. The father is on disability and there’s not much money to be had. Because there’s no insurance coverage nor state program, they can only afford one hour of therapy a week, which is paid for by the kid’s grandparents. Therapy is $125 an hour. While some therapy is better than no therapy, one hour a week will not have the impact of the 15 hours a week that Nate receives. My boy started out in a very dark place and is blossoming into a wonderful, functioning toddler. It is solely due to the early intervention services he’s received and our family’s willingness to carry through with the programs during our lives outside of therapy.
All this to say that we’re grateful to live in a place that values autism therapy and recognizes how much early intervention can really impact a child’s ability to live a functional life. I think the next post will be “A Week in the Life” so you can really see what this early intervention stuff means. We’ve been unable to keep in touch with so many dear friends and family members and I’m sure people don’t truly understand why. As a bonus, you’ll get to see what a rockstar my son is–he puts in more working hours than many adults do!