Submitted by One Voice for Autism Awareness
This piece was originally published in the July 14, 2016 issue of the Teton Valley News as part of the weekly Nonprofit Spotlight presented by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Think about this statistic . . . Sitting on a bus, it could be the person next to you. It could be the child in line for ice cream, or the man next to you at a restaurant. Autism Spectrum Disorder is not usually distinguishable by sight alone, and as the name implies, the symptoms and severity of the neurological brain disorder varies greatly from person to person. The bottom line is that Autism is more prevalent than most of us realize.
Let’s break down that CDC statistic: 1 in 68 children are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. That statistic means that the Teton Valley is without a doubt affected by Autism as well. You may have noticed in the news lately that celebrities such as Taylor Swift and influential NCAA men’s basketball coaches are taking notice of this startling increase in Autism within our communities and interceding where insurance companies have not. For example, Taylor Swift just donated $10,000 to a young boy with Autism that desperately needed a service dog to increase his safety when outdoors near roadways and bodies of water.
According to AutismSpeaks.org, the rate of Autism has increased by 600% over the last 20 years. There are likely several reasons to this alarming increase; however when a disease increases that rapidly, it creates a serious imbalance between the needs of those ASD families and the services available to them.
One Voice for Autism Awareness, Inc. is one of the newest nonprofit organizations in Teton Valley, just being established in January 2016. It was started by Michelle and Jacob Beitinger shortly after they moved to the Valley and recognized the need for an Autism support system and awareness campaign here. The mission of One Voice is to provide support and funding for ASD therapy and/or equipment not covered by insurance. As mentioned before, when a disorder increases at such a rapid and alarming rate, such as Autism diagnoses have, insurance companies, schools, and communities are often left falling behind in meeting the needs of this large, new population of people with special needs. The gap between what services are needed and what services are provided or covered is large and quite daunting to families with children on the spectrum. In 2005, the average annual medical costs for Medicaid-enrolled children with ASD were $10,709 per child, nearly six times higher than costs for children without ASD. In addition to medical costs, intensive behavioral interventions for children with ASD cost $40,000 to $60,000 per child, per year. If a child’s diagnosis didn’t mean a dramatic change in lifestyle for a family, it is certain that the costs of medical care and interventions will have a dramatic impact on their lives.
One Voice’s goal is to be there for families in this community with children on the spectrum and help manage that gap between what is needed and what is available. Furthermore, One Voice intends to raise general Autism awareness in our community so that, in the long run, that gap is less significant and more manageable for families. If you are a family with a child on the Autism Spectrum, One Voice would love to help you in the form of support, resources, and financial aid.
Please visit our website www.onevoiceforautism.org for more information, or to make a donation. Or, if during the Tin Cup Challenge giving period of May 20-July 22, 2016, please make your donation go further and donate to One Voice directly through the Community Foundation of Teton Valley at www.tincupchallenge.org.
On behalf of everyone involved with One Voice for Autism Awareness, thank you! We can only help because of each of you.
If you are affiliated with a Teton Valley nonprofit, we want to hear from you! Help us share why Teton Valley nonprofits matter. Each week, the Community Foundation will highlight a local nonprofit in the pages of the Teton Valley News. Email Dawn Banks, Marketing and Programs Director, at [email protected] or call 208.354.0230. We look forward to helping share your story!