Autism Insurance Resource Center
The complexities of insurance create significant barriers to accessing care and treatment for autism and intellectual disability. The Autism Insurance Resource Center (AIRC) has an outstanding track record of providing timely and comprehensive technical assistance to consumers, providers, clinicians, educators and others to help them navigate and access medical systems and insurance for autism and intellectual disability treatment and care.
Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative
Every community is impacted by mental illness, yet there is a significant lack of support for family members of individuals with mental illness. The Sibling Support Program addresses this critical gap in service through interventions to decrease trauma and increase resilience among family members. Our staff is made up of clinicians and highly skilled parent mentors, and we provide support and education to all family members, including siblings, parents and grandparents. We offer sibling support programming, staff training, parent training, and facilitated groups on relevant topics for various types of organizations and agencies. For individual families, we offer parent mentorship and customized sibling support.
WHAT MAKES THIS VENDOR UNIQUE
- AIRC is the only organization dedicated solely to providing technical assistance on insurance-related issues for people with autism.
- AIRC’s key personnel have first-hand experience with autism as parents and siblings, and are well-respected leaders in the autism community, serving on numerous commissions and advisory boards.
- AIRC has an outstanding reputation for timely and thoughtful responsiveness, answering all inquiries within 24 hours or less.
- AIRC’s extensive knowledge base and breadth of professional and personal experiences give them unique abilities to resolve complex issues at multiple levels and relate to the consumers they serve.
The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative is based on the following best practices:
- Caregivers must be involved in any effort to support siblings, as opposed to traditional sibling support groups where parents drop off the sibling.
- It is essential to utilize parent mentors with lived experience when providing services to families of those with mental health needs.
- Accommodate families by offering programming in the early evening (after school and work), providing a meal, and mitigating childcare concerns by serving all eligible family members.
- Involve trainees when possible, to build capacity among clinicians that provide family-centered mental health care.
A SUCCESSFUL TA EXPERIENCE
AIRC helps people with autism throughout the lifespan. TA needs vary depending on a person’s age. Included are vignettes from clients illustrating the TA provided and its impact:
Toddler: ” You were instrumental is guiding us through the maze of Early Intervention, medical insurance and services. Dealing with Autism has multiple challenges, and your support with the medical insurance is so critical. It is life changing for families like us.”
School Age: “My son entered a substantially separate classroom, limited to 90 minutes of speech weekly, and 60 minutes of occupational therapy weekly. He needed outside supports, exclusively available through health insurance. Accessing services has transformed our lives. In each of his targeted goals for both applied behavior analysis and speech therapy, he has not only achieved his goals, but mastered them.”
Young Adult: “I’ve struggled with a developmental disability since birth, and it’s been a long, hard road. We were quite relieved to have your assistance navigating the complicated health insurance system. All your time and effort are much appreciated.”
The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative has received tremendously positive feedback from clients. One agency explained, “The sibling and parent support groups offer a literal and figurative space for siblings and parents to receive support and psychoeducation, learn coping strategies and, most importantly, express their own often unvoiced thoughts and feelings about the hospitalized child. Our units have seen first-hand how the groups bolster family relationships, mitigate the collateral damage of psychiatric illness, and help the most important people in a child’s life feel better equipped to cope with both a child’s illness and the downstream effects it can have on a family.”
The statements in this document are made solely by The Autism Insurance Resource Center. No statement in this document should be construed as an official position of or endorsement by Abt Associates Inc. or the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
ABOUT AUTISM INSURANCE RESOURCE CENTER AND THE SIBLING SUPPORT PROGRAM
The Autism Insurance Resource Center (AIRC) and the Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative are part of UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, which supports research, education, and services aimed at improving the quality of life for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families.
The AIRC was established in 2011, shortly after the passage of ARICA (An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism), groundbreaking legislation requiring insurance to cover medically necessary autism treatments. AIRC provides technical assistance, navigation services, information and referral on issues related to insurance coverage for autism treatments to individuals with ID/autism, families, providers, clinicians, educators and others.
The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative was developed in 2011 to strengthen families of those with mental illness. In addition to providing our signature Sibling Support Program, our trained parent mentors are available to facilitate groups and one-on-one sessions on topics such as advocating for appropriate school services; self-care for caregivers; grandparent involvement; and preparing for a patient’s transition home. In clinical settings, our staff is available to support families by participating in team meetings, developing treatment plans for families, and advocating for families in crisis. Additionally, we train staff in best practices for providing family-centered mental health care.
ORGANIZATION FUN FACTS
- AIRC loves their pets – including chickens, dogs, and fish!
- When not providing technical assistance, AIRC’s Director is often spotted knitting colorful socks.
- Outside of work, Sibling Support Program staff can be found biking, hiking, swimming or relaxing in nature.
QUOTES FROM CLIENTS
- “Assisting parents in accessing information and related autism services is an integral part of the Nurse Care Manager’s role, a function made that much easier through the willing support and cooperation of AIRC and its staff who never hesitate to offer resources and guidance to parents and providers alike. Their ability to de-mystify insurance coverages, clarify options and rectify related problems at both the commercial and government-subsidized levels has contributed significantly to the implementation of patients services that might not otherwise have occurred were it not for AIRC’s commitment, savvy and collaborative spirit.”
- Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative heard from participating siblings on what they found helpful: “getting out trapped feelings” and “to know there were other people going through the same thing.” When asked what caregivers will do or think about differently, caregivers shared they will: “be more aware of what my son’s actions might be telling us about how he is feeling inside” and “try to reassure my daughter that we are handling the situation so she will worry less.”