Supporting Special Needs/ASD families
The ladies at I Bambini wanted to take a moment and recognize all of the families with Special Needs & Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affected children. While all medical conditions deserve their own moment in the spotlight to raise awareness, we wanted to touch on ASD this month because there are important changes happening right now that you might not be aware of if you weren’t directly affected by them. Some of us here at I Bambini recently participated in protest rallies to generate discussion and support for maintaining services for ASD children – this is a concern that is near and dear to our hearts since some of us are ASD familes.
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. It is a lifelong condition for which there is no cure. Research studies are just now beginning to identify important information that families “on the spectrum” need to know in order to improve quality of life for their kids. Children diagnosed with ASD conditions might have learning and speech impediments that greatly affect their ability to lead normal lives and require intense, repetitive-based therapy on a routine basis (sometimes 5x a week, up to 2 hours in length!) to help them develop normal speech and behavior patterns. These therapies can cost upwards of $3000 a month, depending on the state and severity of the ASD conditions being managed. ASD is a continuously dynamic diagnosis and since there is NO cure, patients will often need lifelong supervision and assisted living conditions to ensure their safety and wellness. There are around 8,000 children with this condition in the Armed Forces – across all service branches, and their access to these therapies is being threatened by Congressional budget cuts to our military programs, specifically to TRICARE (the military health insurance program that manages all of the medical care for our service members and their families). The proposed cuts will reduce autism healthcare payments by half, which will make it much more difficult for our service members to find providers and/or pay for the therapy needed. There are many ways to get involved, from rallies and petitions to sharing this information and raising awareness about the issue. If you’re interested in finding out more information or in supporting this cause (#doyoucareTRICARE), look at the links below.
P.S. My daughter Arielle is 4 and she was diagnosed with ASD at 2.5 yrs old. She is just now learning how to talk and interact normally, is potty trained and has been able to learn everything required to the Kindergarten level as a result of 11 months of ASD therapies. Were it not for these therapies, she would be mute and extremely developmentally delayed with little hope for an independent life. She is a success story for ASD therapies and I hope you will join me in supporting our military personnel by writing letters (email or snail mail), making calls, joining us on social media and participating in rallies!