At Behavioral Lifeboat, our vision is large scale. We believe everyone should receive the behavioral therapy they need. Families and individuals worldwide need a cohesive, proven solution for children and adults who have disabilities and other disorders that can be treated effectively with behavioral therapy. Behavioral Lifeboat will offer solutions to make evidenced-based behavioral therapy accessible to all by increasing awareness, making comprehensive insurance benefits affordable and meaningful, allowing schools to provide more effective behavioral therapy programs, and providing affordable behavioral therapy services when other solutions are not available.
Our initial focus will be to help families secure affordable, data based, behavioral therapy services for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We are particularly interested in ensuring that children with ASDs receive medically necessary early intervention services during the “window of opportunity” (typically up to age 8).
According to the CDC (http://1.usa.gov/de4POM), approximately 1% of the children in the United States have ASDs. ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but are four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. Children with ASDs cannot pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. They deserve the opportunity to live meaningful, happy lives and to have a chance to become contributing members of society.
The cost to society of ASDs is estimated to be $35 billion to $90 billion annually. The average lifetime individual cost is $3,200,000. This cost can be reduced by 2/3 through intensive quality behavioral therapy – the only treatment that has been consistently validated by independent scientific research. According to Autism Votes, an Autism Speaks initiative (http://bit.ly/nMPMGn):
“It is well accepted in University research that 48% of children who receive intensive ABA therapy achieve ‘best outcomes.’ This means the child 1.) attains a typical IQ; 2.) requires no further supports or services in regular mainstream education, and; 3.) no longer meets the diagnostic criteria for autism. The purpose of intensive ABA therapy is to produce ‘best outcomes.’ Less intensive ABA therapies are indicated for other children who have a different prognosis.”
Most children with ASDs and other behavioral conditions do not get the therapy they need, despite often heroic efforts by their families. Such therapy can be very expensive, particularly in the early years. To be effective for a child with a severe ASD, a comprehensive, intensive program of behavioral therapy can entail 30 to 40 hours per week (more or less depending on the child’s needs) for three or more years. At current rates, such intensive therapy provided by for-profit service providers can cost over $100,000 per year.
Fewer than 5% of all US households can afford such costs. Many families run out of money before the therapy demands diminish. Some parents mortgage their future. Others can do nothing at all. The emotions faced by parents who cannot help their child can be devastating. The stress on families is extraordinary.
Families need quality, affordable evidenced-based solutions. But, no solutions of sufficient scale are currently available. Public and private schools generally do not address the need. The federal mandate for public schools is not adequately funded. Private schools typically offer admission to only the highest functioning children with ASDs and other behavioral conditions. Insurance usually does not meaningfully cut these costs. Federal aid is essentially nonexistent for all but those who live in near poverty conditions before adding these therapy costs. Federal grants are generally available only to fund research for a cure, not practical solutions. National nonprofit organizations work hard to increase awareness, search for cures, and advocate for legal change – but none offer a large scale solution for children who have ASDs today. A few local nonprofit organizations try to meet this need in their communities, but most grants are insufficient. Meanwhile, generations of children are not getting the help they need. At Behavioral Lifeboat, our goal is to find solutions so that they do.
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Behavioral Lifeboat hopes to file to be a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization.