Autism's $100,000 question

  • Article by: MAURA LERNER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 4, 2011 - 8:46 AM

Advocates say intensive therapy helps kids. Skeptics ask whether it's really effective and worth public cost.

  • 10
  • Comments

  • Results per page:
  • 1 - 10 of 10
uhokaythenApr. 4, 1110:15 AM

Dear writer of this article, and The Star Tribune in general--do you get some kind of pleasure out of getting the public riled up against the autism community, and are you out to actually write an objective and informational article? This "news paper" has done nothing but villify and attack the autism community for several years. If there is an actual debate going on, what are the other options. Well, according to this article, it is to take our autistic children out for a nice jog and get them a little speech therapy, and whamo, the problem is solved! For there to be a true debate, there has to be other options for therapy raised, and in this wonderfully researched article, there isn't. This is nothing but a hit piece to get peopole up in arms about how much autism therapy costs, plain and simple. This article, and nearly every other article I've seen the Tribune write on the subject of autism, seems to be written, not to help the public understand autism, but to attack and villify under the guise of sloppy research. What else does this article hope to achieve? Apparently the editorial staff of The Tribune notices that April is Autism Awareness month every year, and that instead of aiding the public in understanding autism, the Tribune, year after year, decides--"How can we best misrepresent the issue and target the autism community, because we have a political agenda and an axe to grind?" Your "paper" is transparent in its aims, and I find it disgusting.

6
14
g610125Apr. 4, 11 3:16 PM

Let's relate this story to the good old supply and demand curve used in econ 101. If the price is zero the demand becomes practically infinite. Start handing out entitlements and people will definitely take you up on the offer.

4
5
vpalodicApr. 5, 11 2:44 AM

I understand that parents of children that have diseases/disorders are in need of assistance. I am in no way in favor of anyone but the parents of these children baring the cost of raising and caring for them. That being said, I would agree to a state supported program that provided credit to these parents so they are able to pay for their care but, just like student loans, this credit must be paid back and can not be erased through bankruptcy or other means.

I have a first cousin who suffers from a terminal disease, CF, that he was born with. His father worked hard and for a good company, Sperry/Unisys, and he never gave up on pressuring and finally convincing his insurance provider to cough up some funds to help pay for treatments that have allowed my cousin to live a normal live.

These parents should try and do the same as my cousin and his father never asked the tax payer to help pick up the tab. It may take a lot of time and effort but, it is most definitely not the tax payers responsibility to care for these individuals.

7
7
awblnewApr. 5, 11 9:32 AM

Okay, Economics 101 (which incompasses much more than "supply and demand", BTW): If 1 in 110 children has a disability that may require treatment, that 1) takes all of those families out of the market for most of the goods and services businesses are trying to sell to make a profit, 2) may prevent those parents from working and contributing to the GDP while at the same time needing assistance for basic goods like food, etc. 3) denies certain citizens ( disabled children) the opportunities to recover and build skills to eventually join the workforce rather than be supported by it. Hmm. These facts tell us that in the name of the Capital, Labor and Productivity standards for our economy, it's CHEAPER to pay now instead of later. Just ask Art Rolnick of the Fed. The earlier the intervention with education, and by extention, therapy, the greater the return, with less expense in the future.

8
3
louisjbouchaApr. 5, 11 4:36 PM

The news talks about the $100,000 question and totally missed the $1,000,000 question which is "Who will take care of those who are autistic and reach adulthood without any skills?" We can scream that the parents should all we want but guess what, the parents eventually pass away and usually before their children. Before they pass away, the get old and frail. An adult can easily control a 5 year old. I doubt however that a 60 year old has the strength and capability to control a 30 year old.

However, I will put his in a dollars and cents perspective. The lifetime cost for the care of an autistic person is $3,500,000. This is for education, feeding, housing, and caring for a person who is not nor ever will be capable of caring for themselves. For a 60 year lifespan (most persons in governmental care do not live is long as the general population), this amounts to $60,000/year and there will probably never be a return for that.

Now, lets assume that ABA is $70K/year and the treatment is generally 4 years with residual special education costs bringing the total cost to $500,000. However, if the person responds to the treatment well, we as a society have a chance of getting at least some of that back through productivity of the person who can function somewhat in our society. However, rather than spread out over 60 years, the cost is contained in about a 10 year period.

The problem that many people have is the huge up-front cost. However they are being penny wise and pound foolish. If we do not pay the cost of treatment now, we as a society will pay the care cost later, even if we return to institutions as they existed in the early 20th century. The choice is ours.

11
3
louisjbouchaApr. 5, 11 4:41 PM

For those who say the cost should be borne by the parents, let me ask this. What is the purpose of insurance? In its true definition, insurance is a product purchased where you pay a small predictable amount to protect yourself against paying out amount in an unpredictable incident. I would think that in this case, any parent who has health insurance would be doing the right thing.

Now in the case of autism however, the parent paid the premium but now is being told the incident that they paid a premium for will not be covered. How would you like it if you paid for health insurance all your life and then had a heart attack and found out the treatment is not covered? If is the same difference.

As for convincing an employer to carry that type of coverage or a health insurance company to provide it, that takes almost as much effort and convincing the government to act.

7
2
abatherapistApr. 5, 11 7:44 PM

I have been doing ABA for over 5 years now. I studied ABA specifcally in college, so I do know what I am talking about. ABA is BASED off data collection. It is one of the most researched and data driven sciences. The journalist of this article obviously did not know this, or chose not to include this FACT in this article. I was extremely disappointed that there was not one piece of data in this entire article.....someone missed the point of ABA all together. Month after month we must prove to insurance companies and the state alike that each and every child is making progress. If a particular child is not making progress they are discharged from the program. The company I work for has a 40% "success rate" with mainstreaming children. To reiterate what louisboucha said "The lifetime cost for the care of an autistic person is $3,500,000. This is for education, feeding, housing, and caring for a person who is not nor ever will be capable of caring for themselves." If we can (for lack of better words) recover 40% of the kids who will NEVER TOUCH that 3.5 mil, but instead will be productive members of society then financially ABA makes sense for every member of society. Without our services that 40% will most definately cost society that 3.5 million. The unfortunate thing is that ABA is a fairly new science and it is still unknown why some kids thrive with ABA treatment and others do not. Maybe some day if ABA can figure out the difference between a child that will be best outcomes and a child that will not we can just give up on this other 60% all together when they are young instead of pooring money into this costly treatment. I believe this idea of "giving up" on these children is what some were suggesting in this article.

6
3
iBelieveApr. 6, 11 5:21 PM

Anyone who says "Autism is a difference in the way your brain is. You're not going to cure it" is a fool. They are ignoring science and know nothing about neuroplasticity. I'm not saying it can be cured, just that we can't say that it can't be cured, because maybe it can if we figure out how. Everyones brain is constantly developing. The way your brain is now is not the way it will be a year from now. It would be better to study what is happening and make it consistently repeatable.

3
3
alaskasonApr. 8, 1112:42 AM

"Some scientists have challenged Lovaas' original results, in part because it wasn't a randomized study -- meaning he didn't ensure that all children started out at the same level." That is not what a randomized study does. Randomized means randomized. But with a small sample -17 - making it randomized wont help much. The purpose of any scientific study used to establish overall effectiveness is that researchers do not intentionally pick out the most suitable kids. But this does not apply to a small study.

3
1
proudmommaMay. 12, 1111:02 PM

I am a mother of a child who was just diagnosed with Autism. After reading this article and the comments I find myself FURIOUS! Why is it that there is a program out there that can help and possibly rehabilitate these children but its simply not offered because "insurance wont pay for it" or "there is little state funding" yet we are willing to dump $350 million dollars in a new stadium? We would never tell someone with caner that they cannot have treatment because it only worked for 40% of patients. Why is this excuse used for the children?! Spending this money upfront would and could change these childrens lives forever and help them become contributing members of society. So instead lets just give up on these precious souls and have them become "financial burdens". Shame on everyone who is not in support of having ABA covered either by insurance or State funded!!!!! Maybe someone should have given up on you as a child!!!!!!!!!!!!

0
1
  • 1 - 10 of 10

Comment on this story   |  

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT