My husband and I are from Brazil, but we're planning on moving to the US (San Francisco, New Jersey or New York) to have better treatments for our 3-year-old son.
Here we have speech therapy twice a week and ABA sessions four times a week. School is regular, he doesn't get to participate at a special needs classroom.
My husband will be transferred by his company, he works with IT. He gets health insurance by his company.
My one-million-dollar question is which place will be best in terms… read more
That is a tough question to answer accurately. Mainly because every state, or even city in the U.S. differs so greatly in relation to how it handles services especially for mental/behavioral health. And to add to it, you also have to look at your insurance company as well. Some insurance companies cover ABA while others do not. Some schools include all services (my son's for example does) while other schools in the same area have nothing.
The schools here are funded various ways. There is state/government funding, as well as tax funding and donation funding. The state/government funding is based on how well the children score on tests, taxes are based on how high property taxes in the area is and how much of that goes to the local schools. And then of course, donations are based on fundraising and/or just people who donate to their local schools. So, schools in more well-to-do neighborhoods will often have better funding and do better in all areas. I hate the entire school funding system here because of this.... some schools are fantastic simply because they are located in an area with wealthier people... and that is the biggest gist of it all!
How well the services are out of schools really depends on the area, the demand for services and what your insurance is willing to cover. If you have good money, there is ALWAYS good help available here. But for people on fixed and/or low incomes, this area can become a real struggle.
My son receives; OT, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, social skills training, meditation and yoga all at his school. The school even offered to pay for his gymnastics lessons to further help with his motor skills. Yet a school 20 minutes away may not have even half of that available.
But don't let this deter you at all.... because help is certainly available all over this country for our children. Some places it's a bit harder to get than others... but if you're willing to travel to an entire other country to help your child, I don't see you as the type to back down easily.
Also, wanted to add that we selected an ABA provider with in-home and center services. My son started out just doing in home but now does 1 day per week at the center to learn social skills. When were researching, some providers did only in home or center or a combo of both, so something to consider, however, may not be needed if your child will be getting social skills at a special preschool.
We are in the Bay Area, across the bay from San Francisco, so I can only talk about our experience here; however, we have done limited research on other states because we are considering a move. NY allows insurance companies to cap the cost of ABA therapy to $45,000/year while NJ does not have a cap. However, you can live in NJ and still commute into work into NY. My son is 2 years old and does about 30 hours of ABA per week at a cost of almost $6k a month, so we would quickly meet any caps. When were diagnosed at 19 months and looking for an ABA provider, the majority had waitlists of 1-2+ years, so I would call and try to get availability as soon as possible. The school district does not provide services until my son is 3 years old, so we initially received OT and ST through the regional center. CA also requires insurance companies to cover ST or OT or any therapy for autism, with no caps. I have a friend with an older son who attends a special needs school provided by the school district and then he receives a few hours of ABA at home after school. Good luck on your relocation and let me know if you have any questions!
CA mandates that insurance not cap all therapies for autism. I'm not 100% sure on NJ, but I believe so, and believe NY has the $47k cap. I had only done primarily research on various states. If you call the ABA provider, they should be able to give your further details. You can also try to find an autism support network in each state to try to get answers. We use to live in NJ/NY before I had my son and I was just curious -- we will likely never move back there. We are in the Oakland Unified School District, which is a large, diverse district and from what I've heard, you really have to fight for what your child needs. I have another friend who's 21 year old son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years and received services through the Piedmont School District and she was very happy with all the services. He's now a sophomore at UC Berkeley! Piedmont is very highly rated school district but homes there are price prohibitive. If we had over $2m to spend on a house, we would definitely move there! I'm not sure about the waitlists now, but I would start by contacting your insurance company for a list of covered providers and just make your way down the list.
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