Funding options for children with autism

TRI-CITIES, YAKIMA, Wash. -- Thousands of families in the Tri-Cities and adjacent valleys are caring for kids on the autism spectrum. While many say the job is rewarding, the journey also has its weighty price tags along the way. Action News learned of a new effort to save your family money.

For Amanda Crawmer and her family, every financial decision is a weighty one, no matter how small.

"When we make an expense, we always evaluate: is it worth a couple hours of therapy or not?" said local mother Amanda Crawmer.

Amanda has two children on the autism spectrum. While Morgen is higher functioning, Jack is more impacted, diagnosed as non-verbal. A commitment to her son has meant a commitment to a balanced checkbook.

"We live very frugal lives. We don't take family vacations, and that's okay because our kids are more important than Hawaii," added Crawmer.

We broke down the costs for the Crawmer family. Five days a week, Jack and Morgan undergo behavior sessions. Just in co-pays, it adds up to 800 bucks a month. Speech and occupational therapy both cost 160 dollars each month, separately. Then there's unexpected costs.

"Well, we pay a lot for the therapies that we do, and because Jack is a little more destructive than the typical child, we pay an immense amount of money in home modifications," said Crawmer.

The Crawmers recently lost the help they had for therapy money. The Responding to Autism Center knows other families are in need as well. The agency is starting up a diagnostic team by this spring. Having a specific diagnoses can allow insurance to financially support a child with autism.

"Autism is a very pervasive disorder, so it takes a lot of different therapies for a child, an adult and a family to receive," said autism specialist Christine Lindgren.

Resources to help children like Morgan and Jack become everything they're meant to be.

There is still money out there to help if you need it. You can find out if you're eligible by contacting the local Developmental Disabilities Administration. Last year, 27 people from Tri-Cities were approved for assistance by the DDA.

Here is the link:

Families can also go to their local Community Services Office to see if they're eligible for other welfare and health benefits. These offices are located in Yakima, Kennewick, Sunnyside and Wapato.