Awareness and ASD
A young couple living in an under privileged neighborhood has their first child together, a beautiful baby boy. Their son becomes the center of their whole world and their hope for their future. At first, everything is “normal” with him. He eats, sleeps, and cries all like normal babies due. However, as their son begins to age the young parents begin to notice something’s wrong with their son; he isn’t progressing the same way other children his age are. He doesn’t seem to have too much interest in playing with new toys or other children. He doesn’t make eye contact with his mom when she is feeding him. He doesn’t respond to his name. Although these seem to be a little strange, the couple doesn’t worry too much. They just think that he is a late bloomer or maybe is just a little shy. However, as their son reaches the age where most kids begin to talk, their son hasn’t said anything more than “boo,” a word that they still don’t know what he’s referring to. Eighteen months pass by and the boy still hasn’t said “mama” or “dada” something that makes the parents sadder than anything else. Still, more things start to concern the parents. Their son has become fixated on a small red ball and refuses to play with anything else. In addition, if the ball is ever missing or not in its precise place in his toy box, the boy throws a tantrum that cannot be stopped by anything. The young parents begin to suspect that their child falls on the Autism Spectrum. However, due to their financial status they are scared to get their child diagnosed and then feel pressure to continue with his care and the expenses that follow. Because of the financial strain on their family, the parents make the hard decision not to get their child diagnosed and continue raising him as a normal child.
The situation described above happens to many families with children with disabilities. Autism is the largest growing developmental disability, with 1 in 68 children born in America being affected. However, the services for Autism are extremely expensive. In the United States, Autism services coast 262 billion dollars a year. To properly educate a child with Autism, it costs an additional 8,000 dollars a year. This does not include the price of therapies, such as ABA. Although the diagnosis of Autism is growing in the United States, the availability and affordability of services are not. The lack of services has a major impact on people with Autism. For example, without services that are tailored towards people with Autism it is more difficult to succeed in school and integrate in social settings. Because of this there are less people with disabilities that have jobs or go to college. One of the main reasons that Autism services are severely slacking is due to the lack of knowledge about the disorder. It is unknown what specifically causes Autism and what services are the most beneficial. I have worked in labs that have addressed both of those questions. Although progress has been made, there is still much more research to be conducted. I want to know how autism services can be made more available and affordable in the meantime.