NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Several East Texas families have been experiencing miracles when it comes to their autistic children thanks to alternative diets and supplements.
But the fight against autism isn't over. High medical bills, and with literally zero scientific evidence proving diets, like Gluten-Free and Casein-Free, can help autistic behavioral symptoms, parents are having a difficult time finding medical treatments they can afford.
Jennifer Young, a Nacogdoches mom, says her 11-year-old, autistic daughter, Madison, has grown exponentially since starting her on several diets.
"She doesn't display the symptoms of autism anymore—the behavioral symptoms of autism—but I believe those behavioral symptoms came from her underlying medical conditions," Young said.
Yet, that was a very different story several years ago, when Madison was first diagnosed with autism at age three.
"She did not make eye contact, she threw tantrums—screamed and cried—it felt like it was all day long," Young said. "I did not take that child anywhere. She did not go to the grocery store with me. We did not go to restaurants. The only place she went was a local preschool for half a day, but otherwise, you couldn't take her anywhere because she may have a meltdown, she may tantrum, and so pretty much, she just stayed home."
Young says supplements and diets contributed mostly to Madison's turnaround. Yet, it was still expensive, medically, to treat her autism.
Right now, Madison does two therapies that cost well over $1,000 dollars. She does a low dose allergen therapy, which is a three-year treatment, that costs $500 a session.
"It's not covered by insurance, and I have to drive to the Dallas area to get it done and then we also do a therapy here locally called neurofeedback and it's not covered by insurance, either," Young said.
The NFB costs about $1,000. Despite the costs, Young says both therapies are necessary to helping Madison with her medical issues caused by autism.
"The LAD addresses all the allergy problems, because you know, she has chronic congestion and so that addressed that and then she would break out sometimes with rashes and what not, and so that was just an overall allergy treatment," Young said.
"The neurofeedback is a therapy that kind of re-teaches the brain and it helps you learn to focus and they map your brain first, before they do it, before they start the treatment, and it tells them what issues are going on and so they can set up a program that is customized to the patient."
Young says the issue is finding money to cover those costs, and that's when she stumbled upon the Thinking Moms Revolution, a national organization that focuses on dealing with autism and recovery.
"They had a Facebook page and I started reading their blogs on the Facebook page and realized that we had things in common, as far as children," Young said. "They had children diagnosed with autism just like Madison and so there was just a lot of things in common as far as searching for treatments and therapies that are not well accepted by the mainstream medical community."
But that wasn't all. Last Wednesday, the organization announced a nonprofit branch called Team TMR, which is providing real help to real families struggling with medical, emotional, educational and financial hardships because of autism, and other complex issues.
"It was real exciting when this group came along and then I felt like I had friends. People who understood me, who understood what I was going through with my child—what I had been through that accepted and offered help," Young said.
Young says the best thing about the group is that even though they are brand-new, they offer grants for families who need financial help because of high medical bill for necessary treatments.
Everyone is encouraged to apply for the grant if they feel like they need help, Young add, saying what will happen is the grant application will be looked over by the TMR board of directors. If the family is approved, they will then be given the grant money of their choice. If they have a certain doctor in mind they want to do the treatment with, the money will be automatically given to that doctor personally from the organization.
According to teamtmr.org, it says "the typical award averages $1,500 per family, but larger amounts may be considered dependent on funding availability."
The cutoff dates for applications are: January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15.
Young says it's great, and she is so excited to be a part of the organization. Young will be contributing to an eBook that will be released this summer that features stories from real moms about their children's road to recovery, and their current struggles medically.
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