I've had the entire gamut of reactions, from parents insisting I was trying to rip them off to acceptance. I've had them hang up in numb disbelief and I've had them try and negotiate.
It's not cheap. Half a day of therapy each week can easily be over a thousand dollars and most families spend between $35 000 and $ 70 000 each year, per child. I've seen families go broke, lose their house, sacrifice their retirement and still not be able to pull together the funds to continue.
Medical costs aren't something we generally have to think about in Canada. But this little taste of what it must be like to live in a non-health care society is shocking.
We've been lucky that we've been able to skid through financially. Granted, our house is un-updated from when we purchased it (we're the only house on the street that hasn't had some kind of renovation or work), we don't go on vacations and buying new clothes is a carefully planned luxury. But we're in far better shape than many others out there.
We're coming to the end of the latest round. It's gone over what we had initially saved, but we have been able to make up the difference. I know there will be more bursts of intensive therapy in the future, none of which are likely to be covered.
I do try and be honest with parents, that this is a major commitment but it is possible. And to a point, it's also necessary. Time and money spent now can make a big difference on how much time and money is spent later, without even touching on your child's quality of life. But it's heartbreaking when I know someone is willing but just can't pull the funds together, not even through bone-cutting sacrifice.
That's why I try to raise awareness. So far, not one political party has supported comprehensive funding for autism treatments. If that were to change, I bet they would discover a whole lot of hidden votes.