Grand total for Hamhock’s rehabilitation as of December 31, 2008: $44,916
- ABA Therapy, therapists: $30,534
- ABA Therapy, consultant: $8,410
- RDI Therapy, consultant: $3,595
- DAN! BioMedical Treatment: $2,377
Sources of Funding
- Foowife – from part-time night job: $26,316
- Foo – from family budget: $8,000
- Extended family members’ contributions: $5,000
- UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation grant: $5,000
- Anonymous donations (most likely members of our church congregation): $600
I have to state up front here, that I hope my blog doesn’t give people the errant idea that my husband and I were rolling in the lap of luxury, and that is why we were “able” to pursue ABA therapy.
I started a crappy call-center job the month Hamhock was diagnosed. I started working this job (30 hours at night until midnight) to earn the bulk of the cost for my son – about $1,200 a month. We squeezed out $400 a month from our family budget from Fooboy’s job. Luckily we qualified for the extra $400 a month from UHCCF. Whew.
We had no money. We were renting an old, stinky 1950’s house for $800 a month. We had a crappy car that kept breaking down, for which we were paying $160 a month. (Thankfully our 8 year old Jeep was paid for). My husband worked from 9-5 (*he was finally making about $50K as an attorney in attorney-saturated Utah. It took him two years after law school to secure his first real law job, earning $37K. We have $75K in law school debt.), and I would leave the house at 5:30 to go to work from 6 pm – midnight. We literally lived hand-to-mouth/paycheck-to-paycheck for two years to provide our son ABA therapy. We had no savings. We were not contributing to a 401K. We took no vacations. We were paying off our $7K hospital/doctor bill from Superboy’s c-section (due to crappy health insurance).
So, after I would manage my son’s therapy alone all day (hiring tutors, keeping them trained with bi-weekly meetings, monitoring their progress, etc), while also breastfeeding and taking care of my one-year old (proud to say I breastfed him until he was two – yay for breastfeeding moms!), doing all the typical “housewifey” things – laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, ironing, paying bills, etc, then I got the *lovely* pleasure to work at a crappy call center job until midnight, 5 nights a week.
I developed insomnia. I lost my sex drive. We didn’t go on any vacations. I felt like an 80 year old woman with no energy (I was 36-38 in 2006-2008). As of March 2013, I am still recovering from each of those things, as well as obviously financially trying to catch up.
That said, the progress I saw in our son was invaluable. I would not trade those two crappy years for anything, because I truly feel it gave him what he needed.
Because of my experience, I don’t think that ABA therapy is just for rich people. If there is a will, there is a way. I sincerely pray that health insurance in all 50 states will cover ABA therapy (if that is the path that the parents choose), so that they also don’t have to go through two years of hell like we did, just to give their child a fighting chance.
In 2008, Foo got a much better job with a better firm and that coincided with finishing up Hamhock’s ABA therapy, so we were finally able to start living a “normal” middle-class life. We bought our first home (after 11 years of marriage); a little 1983 2,000 sf bungalow with a one-car garage. We bought our first SUV minivan (after 13 years of marriage) in 2010. We took our first official family vacation to the Grand Canyon in 2011, when Hamhock was 8 and Superboy was 6 (after 12 years of marriage).
So, please. . .I hope there are no illusions that only financially solvent or rich people can run a successful ABA Therapy program.