Our April Charity: Imagine A Way

Our April Charity: Imagine A Way

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and it is a time to uplift autistic voices and share stories to increase the understanding and acceptance of people with autism in our society. Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects about 1 in 36 children in the United States. Caused by differences in the brain, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects the way people experience the world, and looks different on every autistic person. Although we’ve come a long way in terms of acceptance and open discussion about neurodiversity, there is still much work to be done to support, understand, include, and empower those with autism. 

When it comes to children with autism, early intervention can make a significant difference in their lives. An early diagnosis can help children receive timely intervention, which gives them a greater opportunity to develop skills and manage sensory experiences and behaviors. When kids as young as two or three years old receive therapeutic services for ASD, their rapidly developing brains will make so much progress that their autism symptoms and behavioral issues are drastically improved by late childhood. Studies show that children who receive early intervention services have better outcomes in communication, socialization, and behavior than those who don’t receive intervention. The only problem? The cost of early intervention is high, and many families whose insurance doesn’t cover these services can’t afford them.

Joel and Carolyn Price are two parents who witnessed the power of early intervention with their own eyes. When their son, Joshua, was diagnosed with autism at 2.5 years old, they were devastated. They knew little about ASD, but they did know that there was indisputable evidence that therapy from a young age offered the best opportunity for Joshua to reach his full potential. Joshua flourished under therapy, which cost $37,500 a year and was, fortunately, covered by their insurance at the time. Families without insurance or the means to pay exorbitant sums, they are simply forced to miss that crucial window of opportunity in which early intervention can change their lives for the better. Grateful for the ability to get their son the therapy he needed, and determined that other kids like their own receive life-changing intervention, Joel and Carolyn Price decided to found Imagine A Way.

Imagine A Way (IAW) is a central Texas-based nonprofit that is dedicated to supporting families of children with autism. The nonprofit bridges the gap for families who are unable to afford the significant costs of treatments, and provides ongoing financial support for therapies and a network of resources to families with children between the ages of 2 and 7 diagnosed with ASD. Depending on the unique needs of the children IAW gives financial aid to, the organization helps to fund some or all of the prescribed therapies, which include speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, and applied behavioral analysis (ABA). 

Even with insurance coverage, these therapies are still unaffordable for many families. In Austin, ABA therapy averages between $35 to $50 an hour, and most children require 12 to 20 hours of ABA per week. With hours and hours of ABA, speech therapy, and occupational therapy, a simple week’s worth of prescribed treatments is costly and out of the question for those whose insurance doesn't cover them. Intensive early intervention can cost $100,000 per year, and families with autistic children have to fight to get the treatments that are proven to help them, facing an out-of-pocket cost of $5,000 to $25,000 per year even with insurance coverage. Imagine A Way gives these parents a lifeline for their children, as well as something else they desperately need—hope.

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, we have chosen Imagine A Way as our April charity and donated $5,000 toward their mission to give every child with autism the opportunity to reach their full potential. Not only does the nonprofit organization work hard to provide critical financial support to cover therapy costs, it also provides special needs resources in the form of Webinars to help families navigate everything from the ARD and IEP process, picky eating, needs of siblings, financial planning, and much more. Although IAW currently only serves central Texas and Houston, the nonprofit is making a huge difference for children with autism and helping them make great strides to live their best lives. 

If you would like to donate, support an event, volunteer, or find another way to get involved with Imagine A Way, you can visit this page.

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