This post is from contributor, Heather Laurie. Originally published Feb. 2014.
One of the most time-consuming and expensive things about being the mom of a child with autism is the therapy. Therapy lasts for months, even years. Then, the constant paperwork trail and upkeep sucks up your time (which is valuable!), and money oozes out when you have weekly therapy appointments.
When thinking about therapy, consider not just the cost of the individual appointment; consider the cost of gas to and from the appointments, the cost of meals on the road, and your family’s time.
Thinking outside the box can get your child their needed therapy and still keep food in the cupboard!
Free and Low-Cost Therapy Options
Public Schools–*FREE* Public school therapists are supposed to provide free evaluations of possible learning disabilities. That may be harder for a homeschooler than a child who is seen daily in a public classroom when the teacher is often the person suggesting the evaluations. The availability of testing and therapists may also be subject to the state you live in.
If your child has a need for ongoing therapy, and the state laws allow it, your child will receive free therapy–usually given at the nearest school in group and individual form as per the IEP you develop with the school.
Private Therapy Centers–*FREE EVALUATION then COPAYS* Private insurers will often allow a free evaluation for your child’s possible needs. You can then determine if you want to continue with care at that center, if needed. You might also want to use the information from the evaluation to create a home-based therapy.
Home-Based Therapy–*FREE or COST OF PROGRAM* If you homeschool your child, why not use home therapy? I have used a home-based therapy for several years. These are programs you can use straight from your home:
- Super Star Speech speech therapy program
- Straight Talk speech and language therapy program
- Super Duper Publications a great source for language and speech therapy items
- Southpaw a great source for occupational and physical therapy items
Short Bursts of Intense Therapy–Instead of years of therapy and ongoing services you could use therapy for a short, intense period of time. Then use the same methods at home to help your child. We did this for years when we would have a child in therapy for 6-8 weeks then take time off. I watched each session and our therapist was wonderful to provide therapy and exercise plans that we could continue at home after our short burst of therapy.
Outside Sources–There are outside sources to find therapy for free or reduced cost. Teaching universities often have reduced to no-cost therapy available, using students with close supervision. Children’s hospitals also are known to have therapy available on a sliding scale. For example, Scottish Rite is a place for speech therapy.
Depending on what you are dealing with and what is available in your state, you might also find grants to help pay for therapy.
Finally, the Homeschool Foundation is a wonderful program, available to homeschoolers, which may be able to help with costs.
Trade with other parents–I have found moms in MOPS, my local homeschooling co-op, church, etc. who are therapists. Good old-fashioned trade and barter: you will babysit her child so she can have a peaceful grocery store run and she will help your child with occupational therapy. The down side is you probably won’t have all the therapy tools a large center has.
I have successfully used several of these methods of getting therapy over the years. At times I have even mixed and matched. Use what works best for your family. You can successfully find low cost and free ways to get high-quality help for your child!