Since 2006, TACA has provided medical scholarships to families living with autism. These scholarships help families pay for physician-prescribed services, and include stop gap medical treatments, independent assessments, and other necessary crisis funding.
The stories we hear from scholarship recipients warm my heart. This past year, we asked our scholarship recipients to help us collect data, to provide quantitative measures on each child’s progress, and the overall effectiveness of the scholarship program.
To gauge progress, recipients provide Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) scores pre and post treatment. The ATEC is a great tool for clinicians and parents to evaluate treatments based on autistic symptoms (1). This is how it works: the lower the ATEC score, the better the child is doing. The higher the ATEC score, the more likely that the autistic symptoms for the individual evaluated are more profound. The goal of families is to have scores drop after treatments (both medical and traditional therapies).
The official ATEC scores from TACA families have just started coming in, and the drop in scores is pretty amazing! These lowered scores provide tangible hope for just about any family with a child on the spectrum. Based on preliminary data from the last two ½ years, and a small sampling of scholarship recipients participating in currently collecting official data, here is a summary of what we found:
• 13 families with 13 children from 7 states provided ATEC pre and post-test ATEC scores
• 12 of 13 families showed a drop in ATEC scores following treatment, indicating improvement in functioning.
• ATEC scores dropped an average of 26 points, with a marked 33% improvement from pre to post treatment test scores (Note: ATEC pre and post scores collected averaged 8 months apart.)
What this means is that for 12 of 13 families, ATEC scores decreased and their children’s autistic symptoms greatly diminished. We have received great anecdotal feedback in addition to the data reported above. This is one parent’s story:
When my husband and I were given the autism diagnoses, it felt like our world was no longer in color. Our world had turned into black and white. Our future plans were shattered by this word, our hearts torn into pieces.
After researching the biomedical world, I was eager to begin my journey and help my boys become healthier, but I realized that it was going to have a price. Luckily I found TACA. Words like Hope and Faith were no longer in my vocabulary, not until TACA came into our lives. There are not enough words to describe our gratitude. TACA has given our family the opportunity to see our lives in color. TACA has given our family the opportunity to look ahead at a brighter future. After a few months of beginning biomedical treatment, my family, friends, teachers and therapist have noticed the change in my boys. Thank you!
Typically, each TACA print newsletter features a family with an inspiring story. This time, we can report success for these twelve families, who are eager to share that autism is treatable! And we will keep fighting for that 13th child, who has yet to see the progress we are all hoping for. At TACA, we are here to help guide you on your journey to help engineer positive outcomes in our children – hope is real.
Visit www.tacanow.org for more success stories, information about ATEC scores and how to apply for TACA scholarships.