Autism voucher program helps make ends meet

Local News

Living with autism is a journey, especially for kids and their families trying to navigate it.

Brian Wallace and his wife took their grandson, Loren, in when he was just 5 months old.

It wasn’t until he grew much older that they received his diagnosis of autism.

“At first we didn’t know what was going on. We thought he had attention deficit, things like that. And the doctors couldn’t figure it out. And then we went to see a psychiatrist. They diagnosed him with autism and that was about three, four years ago,” shared Wallace.

Wallace says because of the Human Services Autism Spectrum Disorder Voucher program, his family can now have access to services they typically wouldn’t.

“We get to take him and pride gets him four hours, twice a week. So eight hours total. They come and pick him up from the house and bring him back. That’s what they call respite care. And we get to have some time to ourselves once in a while,” shared Wallace.

Families with children ages zero to 17 who do not exceed the 200 percent federal poverty level can apply for the voucher that helps with various programs.

“The voucher could cover services like respite to give the parents a break so they could go and get some energy back so they can jump right back in doing things and to taking care of their child, helping with tutoring, so if they’re struggling with some class in school we could help with outside tutoring that would help get their grades up. And keep their grade equivalency going,” Katherine Barchenger, the North Dakota Department of Human Services Autism Services Coordinator.

The main purpose for this program is to help make things easier for both the kids and their families.

“It is based on what that child’s needs are, whether it be a sensory need, a socialization need or being just time away from other people so that they can deal with all the stressor of the day. So their doctors made the diagnosis and we help with services that help the family be successful,” Barchenger.

The department is accepting applications now and will begin distributing funds as early as July 1.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 54 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder.

You can find more information about the program and other programs at:

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