Profiting off the back of the Special Needs.

I don’t know of any greater crime. And one that’s more prevalent today.

How much attention and regulation is given to such a serious problem? You’d be surprised to hear none in many areas.

With the increase in autism levels to epidemic proportions, and with government funding for therapy available in some areas of the country—what’s happened is a big surge in autism experts. In one area of the country the government came out with a highly coveted qualified service providers list—this list is provided to all parents with a newly diagnosed child. To be paid with government funding, the service provider must hold a master’s degree.  That’s great you think. But the specifics of the master’s degree are not defined. You could have a master’s degree in animal husbandry and find your way on this list.

Ask yourself how a person with a master’s degree in animal husbandry has any qualifications to work with an autistic child, or design a program to help them? Now take the overtired parent who’s scrambling, going through a grieving process, their stress level is high and their coping skills may be low from exhaustion from caring for their autistic child.

These parents then struggle to find someone who’ll help them. They take this coveted list given to them by their appointed social worker–and remember social workers are not allowed to recommend. The parent begins calling, and finds wait lists, no availability, until they get to page ten and “hurray” they find someone with an opening who’ll take them on immediately.

This said professional meets with them has them sign a contract for a ridiculous rate, begins a series of programs from a book. The exact same program they’ve put together for all other autistic children they’re working with. But the exhausted parent doesn’t know this. The professional train’s therapists to implement this therapy program and all are invading your house, your space, and its hundreds of man hours in the beginning just to get started. The billing exceeds the funding provided by the government, so new parent is paying thousands of dollars out of pocket, and maybe struggling at the same time to pay other bills. But then the programs may not make any sense and your child is making minimal progress if any. Your expert/consultant/professional then comes back to you and says your child’s not making progress because you’re not implementing the program correctly. So in your frustration you start making calls, finding other parents, talking with them about your hired professional and the programs, and you find out he or she has done this to every parent they’ve worked with. Maybe even taken a huge retainer and kept it without providing service. Because they know the chances the parent will take legal action against them are slim.

Many parents have been this route and some have stopped doing any kind of therapy–because they’ve been shafted. Filled now with bitterness to a system that doesn’t protect their children, and the parents who are searching for help they know exist.

Before hiring any professional to work with your child understand this. A true qualified professional will gladly provide names of other parents they’ve worked with. And do your due diligence. Call them, talk to them about their child’s progress, about this particular professional, how they are to work with, their experience, background, success rates. The right therapy works and a child will have remarkable progress with the right program. Most seasoned parents will invite you into their home to watch their child’s therapy, go and take a look. Because therapy is individual and must be tailored for each child–it may not be right for your child and your family.

One of the reasons this problem exists is qualified therapists, programs and consultants are few and far between, and most have closed wait lists. But the persistent parent can overcome this barrier with help from other parents who’ve already successfully worked the system.

Some key things to keep in mind before choosing a therapy and hiring anyone.

1)      What are the professional/consultant/therapists qualifications?

2)      Who have they worked with?

3)      Success rate and get names.

4)      Get names of other parents from the professional and call them.

5)      Never take a list from a government worker and start making calls.

6)      Contact your local parents group first. Get their references and recommendations for therapies, consultants, professionals and most important–meet with a seasoned parent. I can’t stress this enough. And most seasoned parents will come to you.

7)      Get the names of qualified people from parents to work with your child. There will be options.

8)      Ask the parents which consultants/therapists to stay away from and why. There will be a reason.

9)      Don’t blindly take the first one, check their rates. Some will refuse to work unless you pay upfront. And costs can be exorbitant and come with conditions. Example, when you fly the professional in because there is no one qualified in your area, they will only stay at a five star resort and you’re footing the bill.

I look forward to all comments. The only thing I ask. If you are professional working with autistic children or have a therapy for autistic children to sell, please do not provide a link to your site in your comment or promote yourself. I am checking.  There were a few comments on my last post that did this and I didn’t post the comments.

I’ll leave you with this question. How many of you know of a parent or parents who have paid their life savings to some professional who promised miracle cures for their autistic child, and their child made no progress?