There is an “Autism Crisis” in Tucson

  1. The lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism exceeds $3,200,000. Source: Harvard study.
  2. 1 in 84 children in Arizona are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This is higher than the national average of 1 in 110.  Source:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. There is a lack of public funds available to help children with autism.  The Department of Developmental Disabilities provides funds for children with a diagnosis of "autism", but not all children with an autism spectrum disorder.  Public funds are not available for children at the "moderate" and "high-functioning" parts of the spectrum (e.g., diagnoses of PDD-NOS, Asperger's Syndrome, or high functioning autism).
  4. Though Steven's Law was passed in AZ in March 2008 which requires group health insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder beginning in July 2009, a loophole in the law means that most children with autism do not receive insurance benefits to cover services related to their disability.  (The loophole:  the law exempts small business or individual health insurance policies rendered outside the State of Arizona.)
  5. The demand for autism services in Tucson is greater than the supply.
  6. Children with autism are being included in the regular education classroom, but most regular education teachers are not trained in autism.  Inclusion, in an educational setting, refers to the placement of a child with autism in a "mainstream" or "regular education" classroom as opposed to a "special education" classroom with children with similar disabilities.  While many school districts provide special education programs for children with special needs, many of these programs do not adequately support children with autism.  These issues leave a large gap in services for children with autism.