Raising a child with autism can be overwhelming and stressful. Add to the other issues the issue of financial hardship, whether caused by expenses stemming from the autism or some other situation, and the stress can become almost unbearable. There is help however, in many forms. There are various types of support for autistic children and their families, including grants designed to lift some of the financial burden of raising a child with autism.
Grants for children with autism can help in many ways. They can be used to relieve the cost of medical expense, travel, counseling, summer camps, special sports programs, and other expenses related to the condition. It is important to note that most often these funds are paid to providers directly, and not the families, as they are designed to offset expenses directly related to autism and not living expenses.
Sources and Qualification
There are many sources of grants for autistic children. Local community organizations, state and national not-for-profits, and some government programs are all options. The qualification requirements are different for each one, but following is a list of basic information needed when applying for grants for kids with autism.
Proof of diagnosis: Not all require this but many do. Most often it is requested in the form of a letter from the doctor.
- Proof on Income: Some grants rely on income heavily for selection, while others use it as only a part of the qualifying process. Most require it however, in some form. A tax return or recent check stub typically does the trick.
- Proof of Residence: This many be required for grants limited to a specific location.
- Description of specific situation: The information needed here is different for each grant. Some are available only those who have suffered a particular qualifying event, while some simply want to take the family’s individual situation into account. Some things to be sure to track so that they can be properly communicated include:
- Travel expenses for travel to and from doctor appointments, therapies, special programs, etc.
- Expenses for prescription medication
- Medical bills, divided into what is paid by insurance and what is paid out of pocket
- Employment limitations due to the autism diagnosis, such as a parent needing to work less or not at all. Also mention if special care is required while both parents are at work beyond regular childcare.
- Extraordinary dietary requirements due to the ASD diagnosis
- Anything that is special about your family and specifically related to your child’s diagnosis
Have this information all in one place, and update it as needed so that when a grant opportunity arises you will be that much closer to having it ready when needed.
What Do Grants For Autistic Children Cover?
Most often grant funds cover direct medical expenses. That is, typically when funds are awarded to a family, they are sent directly to medical providers rather than to the family specifically. Rarely can they be used to cover living expenses due to financial hardship resulting from an autism diagnosis. There are grants that cover other expenses, but they still are not usually awarded directly to the family. For example, the Autism Speaks grants are awarded to organizations only, not individuals. The funds are used to support community and recreation activities for autistic children. Others are specifically for those that have been affected by a natural disaster or other specific life changing event.
Specific Grant Opportunities
There are many grants for children with autism from may different sources, but some specific ones to consider include:
The ACT Today organization offers grants for autism care and treatment. While applicants must make less than $100,000 annually to be eligible, they make it clear that they do look at other factors when making award decisions. They ask for a description of the family situation as well as proof of income, and a separate application is accepted for each child that has been diagnosed with ASD.
AutismCares.org is a great source of information on these grants for kids with autism. The amount can be up to $1,000, and in addition to having a child diagnosed with ASD, the family must have suffered one of the following in the last 90 days:
- Natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, or tornado
- Death or critical illness of an immediate family member
- Termination of employment of the primary income earner
- Loss of a home through foreclosure, eviction, or natural disaster
- Applications can be submitted online, and awards are made monthly. Applications are due by the 22nd of the month in which the reward is being requested, and rewards received after the 22nd will be reviewed in the following month. A limited number of recipients are chosen by the review committee.
National Autism Association Helping Hands Program
The Helping Hands Program, run by the National Autism Association, offers grants for autistic children in the amount of $1,000. These are one time grants only, but they are available to any family that has a child with an autism diagnosis from birth to age 21 and resides in the United States.
The only other requirement that must be met to apply is that the family does not have an income exceeding $50,000. Proof of income and a letter from a doctor proving diagnosis are both required as part of the application process. Families are only contacted if they are approved for assistance, and as usual, funds are paid directly to providers.
These are just some of the more popular grants for children with autism, but there are more if you know where to look. Talk with other families affected, healthcare professionals, therapist, community groups, and as many other resources as you can find to be certain you know about as many as possible. When dealing with autism, every little bit helps.