In the world of business, and especially with ‘Startups’, there is the saying that the faster you fail, the sooner you can get on the right path. Hence the title Fail Fast or #FailFast. Or at least try another path. With autism gaining momentum as a mainstream subject, there are those who will take advantage of souring statistics for their own gain. Some even have autistic children and a load of good intentions. The newfound experts in this area range from those with good intentions but little ability, to downright unethical. With 1 in 56 children being diagnosed with autism, chances are most people are touched by it in some way. They have a sibling, a neighbor or classmates. These growing numbers provide an opening for opportunists to take advantage of the vulnerable parent searching for some way to provide comfort, education or even just fun to the child who is different from the other kids on the block. The parent searching for peace of mind for themselves and a way to integrate their child into society, may have to try many different courses of action before finding one that works for their child and themselves.
One segment they search for a good therapist. Many therapists are good, concerned people who know what they’re talking about and are well-trained. Our niece is a trained therapist and really believes in helping. She stays up to date on the latest teachings. But, as autistic parents, we deal with it 24×7, not for an hour or two a week. What may seem like good advice from the best therapist on a Monday afternoon at their office, may not translate to 3AM when the pacing won’t cease. Each autistic child is an individual case and there is no manual to go by. What works for one, may not work for another. Such is the curious, frustrating nature of autism.
Not all therapists are so caring. We had a therapist who told us his initial concern was only for Peytons’ benefit and that he would ‘work with us’ regarding insurance. After the insurance company rejected his claims, he angrily demanded prompt payment in full. This after being warned that Peyton’s dad probably didn’t have him covered by the most extensive coverage, and to proceed cautiously. On top of that, his best advice – COLORING BOOKS! I have nothing against coloring books and know they are all the rage these days for all ages. But I digress. When it comes to finding a good therapist, do your homework and talk to other parents and references. Check the BBB and other sources in the mental health community. How long have they been involved with autism therapy? If they can’t provide a track record, then look elsewhere. Beware of the therapist who charges thousands of dollars to provide you with a certificate.
And since I mentioned insurance, be sure to check the fine print. We’ve found that most insurance will only cover a small portion of the recommended number of sessions.
Parents may start a support group with the best intentions, only find that beyond commiserating with other parents on what it’s like to raise an autistic child, little gets accomplished. They may not have the skills to navigate the system. They may also not have the temperament to work well with others. Instead of working with others in the community who could provide synergy and different strengths, they want all the glory. They could not set their ego aside for the greater good. Some people make lots of promises and deliver very little…except for making it harder for legit autism campaigners to be taken seriously. Once again, ask the leader how old their child is, how much experience and knowledge do they have about autism. It is much different to have a child with autism who is 8 than one that is 16 and will possibly never have drivers license or a girl/boy friend.
This is not just in autism community, but a condition of society in general. Unfortunately. In our consulting business, we have been strung along and done hours worth of free work only to have those efforts rejected when it came time to sign on the dotted line. There was no problem with the work, it was simply a matter that the client had no intention of paying. That’s the cost of doing business. This is also a form of vetting the client before taking that next step. Many will promise the world and deliver nothing. Make sure to thoroughly check out your next therapist or group. Get references. Talk to other members of the group. There are good people, therapists and legit groups. They just need a little and sometimes a lot more effort to find.
As the awareness of autism grows, so too does the chance that people who may not have the best intentions grows also. In business, failing faster is a win. Don’t be ashamed if you make a bad choice, learn from it and move on. And know there is no magic algorithm to ‘fix’ autism. As the saying goes, “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism”. Each person is different.
Do you have stories of unethical autism workers? Let us know. Also tell us if you’ve found a good therapist or group that is making a difference. And be sure to follow our Flipboard magazines to stay up on the AWESOMISM news.
As a quick aside, we just watched a series of episodes of Rehab Addict* in which Lebron James and his foundation fix-up a house for a Mom with 2 autistic boys. Very touching episode and very cool of King James.