Autism support available in Teton Valley
For all that is valuable and good about living on the cusp of the Rocky Mountains, sometimes Teton Valley can feel remote, particularly when it comes to providing therapeutic support for the youngest members of our community.
“Having a child on the autism spectrum, or likely any disability for that matter, magnifies the need of intervention to achieve that,” Michelle Beitinger said. “No child or his or her family should feel like living in a rural area such as Teton Valley means sacrificing their child's special needs - both medically and socially.”
Beitinger is the founder of One Voice for Autism Awareness, a Teton Valley nonprofit striving to support local families who seek support, both tangible and intangible for members of their family who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
The nonprofit was founded two years ago just after Beitinger and her family moved in Teton Valley. Shortly after that move from the Washington State area, their son was diagnosed with ASD.
As Beitinger navigated this new world, she found that Idaho provided less coverage for therapy for children with ASD.
“Idaho is one of the few states that doesn’t cover much,” she said. “We’re making sure small rural Idaho kids are not forgotten.”
One Voice for Autism Awareness offers a grant cycle that is currently open to Teton County, Idaho and Alta, Wyoming residents. Last year, the nonprofit was able to support four families with ongoing therapy needs that were outside of the scope of health insurance coverage. The nonprofit is largely supported by donors through the Community Foundation of Teton Valley’s Tin Cup Challenge and Beitinger is excited to report that there is more funding available this year.
“We just try to take it one step further by providing money for families,” Beitinger said.
Beitinger understands the emotional burden that many parents feel trying to provide for children with ASD. One Voice for Autism Awareness also offers emotional support through family get-togethers, offering up the reality that no one is alone in their journey.
“I have had moms who are in tears, some with heavy shoulders,” she said of meeting with local families and understanding the challenges they face. “It’s not a downfall to living here, but a challenge.”
More information may be found at www.onevoiceforautism.org. There is an application available on this web site that is open from now until March 23, and said Beitinger, there is no limit to what an applicant can ask for. Some basics to qualify include having a child under 18 years of age, living in Teton County, Idaho or Alta, Wyoming and proof that insurance is not covering the therapy that the parent is seeking.
“Every single child on the Autism Spectrum is unique and has unique needs,” Beitinger said. “Their one common denominator is that they are all beautiful souls - worth all the support they can get.”