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A Father and Autism: The Cost of Autism

1st April 2012

UPDATE: (Weds, 4/4/12) – First off, I and my wife have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for Travis. The compassion we’ve seen has touched us beyond words. With so much interest, I wanted to pass along this update…

I wish we had better news to report, but our trip today did not go as planned. Trying to get the sedatives into Travis required holding his mouth shut, and even then, he did not get all that was needed in his system. The comment from the pediatric dentist was, “You have three options: we can try, but by the looks of it, I would not suggest it. The other is we can strap his arms down and lock his mouth open. Or, we can go the suggested route which is putting him completely under with an anesthesiologist to administer.”

We have decided to go with the latter. One hopes and prays that over time, his ability to go to the dentist without these radical options will subside. Maybe it’s me, but “strapping down” a child – autism or not – is going to create a massive amount of anxiety. The downside is, the cost will be increasing… substantially. As I said to a friend, “Autism: the gift that keeps on giving.” Of course, it’s not “autism” it’s the insurance companies. Why will it cost so much out of pocket? The procedure that is needed for Travis is deemed “elective”. I wish whoever wrote that into the policy would have been there today to see what occurred.

Thanks again for all your support. It means more than words can say. – Maury Brown


Four years. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. And at the same time, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to see my son without it through the prism of autism.

Travis will be turning 7 in May. Many of the challenges that we faced when he was first diagnosed have gone away, only to be replaced with new and different ones. In that, autism is a dynamic, morphing, and life-altering process. It has changed me, my wife, and eldest son’s life in ways unfathomable. It has made me revaluate what is truly important. In that, Travis has taught me more than I have taught him.

But, even in our best efforts to try and understand and prepare for what may come forth from Travis as a “classic” autistic – one lower on the scale – it can be surprising. The cost of autism was not something we thought would impact us so soon.

The cost of autism is staggering, and this is just everyday life costs. We have yet to get Travis fully potty trained. Cost? As much as $60 every week.

It goes further. While it’s not uncommon for kids to be anxious about going to the dentist, for Travis, it’s a full-blown medical procedure. You can’t rationalize with him to get through getting the cavities filed (a side-effect of the autism is a diet that is almost all starches – he will not eat much of anything else, which increases the chances for cavities). Getting a drill in his mouth is an impossibility. So, to do so, we will go to a special dentist, and try sedation. Cost not covered by insurance? Between $500-$1,000. If that doesn’t work, we will have to have him go to the hospital where he will be put under complete sedation, and monitored by an anesthesiologist, just to allow the dentist to do his work. Cost? Thousands (with an inability to shoot X-rays, he may require more extensive work). And, this doesn’t include his “night terrors” which don’t always happen at night and will likely require more attention. The reason for these moments are likely a side-effect of being over stimulated by way of the autism disorder.

To that end, this year is personal. We have started a small fund-raiser for Travis to meet these needs. A PayPal link is provided below for donations.

Donate to the Travis Brown Autism Fund

Through it all, Travis is still a soon to be 7-year-old little boy. He has incredible tactile skills on the computer, often exceeding the skills of his 10-year-old brother in games. He likes Transformers, Legos, and dominoes, but not in the traditional way: he watches YouTube clips. He loves short hikes with his dad, and enjoys school. In that, he is just another little boy. A little boy that can’t speak, but can communicate in other ways.

This is why autism awareness is so important. The challenges are often daunting for parents and siblings, not to mention the children that will grow up to be adults. Please help by promoting not only awareness, but compassion.  Our main focus is to promote autism awareness and have donations made to Autism Speaks through all the Business of Sports Network websites. This personal story simply tells of one aspect and the reason why finding the root cause of autism is so important.

Thanks,
Maury Brown

See details on the 2012 Autism Awareness Challenge.

FOLLOW MAURY BROWN ON TWITTER @BizballMaury

2 Responses to “A Father and Autism: The Cost of Autism”

  1. EdC Says:

    Maury – I have very, very litle, but care. Thanks to Adam at LSB, am humbly sending what I can.

  2. maury Says:

    Thanks very much, EdC!