When I was younger I remember mommy taking us shopping, Also, I remember her putting things on layaway. I didn’t really understand the concept at first. She would have me try on clothes to make sure the clothes fit. I would give her attitude and she would give me “that look”. Then we would wait in a long line only to have a lady put all of my clothes in a bag and place it on a shelf. We would leave the store with a receipt and no clothes. But thirty days later, I would have my bag of new clothes. And I was happy.
I’m sure you are trying to figure out where am I going with this layaway scenario. Well it comes back to the cost of raising a child with autism. The average cost per year to raise a child with autism is $60,000 and that was years ago. I remember sitting in the waiting room with Sydney to see a developmental pediatrician and thinking I hope they have a layaway plan.
Back when Sydney was diagnosed insurance didn’t cover any of our medical expenses. We paid for everything out-of-pocket first. Even when insurance did cover things there was always a stipulation to the number of visits, a high copay and the cutoff age of when they would terminate her benefits. The first doctor we saw was $300 for the consultation. And of course after the consultation we had to set up our weekly follow-up appointments. Each follow up appointment would range from $125-$150. Keep in mind we had to see a speech therapist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a sensory integration therapist. Each specialty had a price attached to their services. Also, we still had to eat, pay our bills etc.
When everyone was telling me early intervention is key, she needs round the clock therapy or she won’t improve, I felt so stressed. Talk about the guilt of being a full-time working mom. All I could do is think about how I could pay for all of her therapy and get her to all of her scheduled therapy sessions, without missing work and be a wife to Rob and a mom to Harrison. I can remember working with the billing clerks thinking this would be a lot easier if you all just had layaway.
At one of Sydney’s therapy sessions I was able to watch her through a two-way mirror. As I was watching them, I would take notes and observe. The therapist was blowing bubbles with her for the entire session. Now, I can’t tell you what I really was thinking and said aloud at the end of the session. But I kept thinking to myself. I just paid $150 for her to blow bubbles when I could have bought bubbles from the dollar store and did the same activity in our yard. Now I am not discounting the method therapists use. I just needed an explanation on what I just witnessed.
When I hear that Toni Braxton, Holly Robinson Peete and Jenny McCarthy’s children have all recovered from autism. I think wow, that is such a blessing and makes me hopeful. All of their children were on different areas of the spectrum yet they recovered. What common denominator was I missing? Oh, money, money, money, money! That’s another O’Jays song. Be sure to YouTube that later.
With the number of children being diagnosed with autism on the rise, it concerns me. I just wish that all families regardless of income could be on a level playing field. I was always told that I made too much money to get help for Sydney. I had to remind them I was an elementary teacher. Are you serious? But they told me, if I stopped working or taught part time, then Sydney would be able to get social security benefits to help with therapies, respite care and many other services. It just doesn’t seem right to me, that I could be denied help. I didn’t say, it didn’t seem fair because I’ve learned that life isn’t always fair.
As I continue a new phase of treatment for Sydney. Layaway is still not an option. But I am not a quitter. So I have to believe that God will make a way. I am praying for wisdom for God to guide me in the direction that is best for my girl.
Remember God always has a ram in the bush when we least expect it.