Wednesday, December 11, 2013
How much do therapies cost for your child with special needs?
Max's longtime music therapist recently moved to another state, which was sad because the kids adored her. Over the years she's gotten Max to sing—even before he had a whole lot of words—and made up awesome songs involving his obsessions including purple, spaghetti and Lightning McQueen.
She recommended a music therapist who runs a business hiring other ones out. We talked. She had someone great in mind. The price: $125 for a half hour.
Right away, I mentioned that was high, noting that the previous therapist stayed an hour and charged $85. A couple days later, I got an email saying after careful consideration she'd reduced her price for all families to $95 for 30 minutes. Better, but I really wanted Max to have at least 45 minutes. In the end, we landed at $105 for 45 minutes. And the new therapist is awesome.
Therapists are amongst the most important people in Max's life, the ones who coax him to articulate sounds and move his hands and limbs in new ways. They are the experts who enable me to enable him. We live in the Northeast tri-state area, where things can get particularly expensive, especially home visits (a must, since Dave and I both work in offices).
Theoretically, the therapists' services are priceless. But in reality, multiple sessions a week adds up to a hefty chunk of change.
There's an occupational therapist in Max's life who is amazingly creative and full of helpful ideas. She also comes to us through a practice that hires out therapists, and we were raised from $155 to $175 an hour when a new owner took over. That is some serious sticker shock; I keep meaning to reach out to the owner, and ask if we can negotiate—but I would not want this therapist to get less money. She travels far to come to us. And like I said, she is phenomenal.
Here's a breakdown of what we pay for Max's therapists:
Music therapy: $105 for 45 minutes
Occupational therapist #1 : $175 for an hour
Occupational therapist #2: $85 for an hour
Speech therapist: $120 for 45 minutes
Art therapist (who comes on occasion): $100 for 1 hour
On average, that's $485 a week.
Reimbursement from our insurance company can best be described as a crapshoot. Sometimes they pay 80 percent of what they deem an "acceptable" rate for services, and sometimes they erratically don't pay—until I pester. Music and art therapy aren't covered.
Rates vary by type of therapy, region and sometimes a therapist's level of experience but still, it's good to know what other parents are paying. Care to share? If so, list where you live (either the state or part of the country), the type of therapy and cost.