By Mary Ashton Mills
For 7-year-old Chaiden Floyd of Thomson, cochlear implants for hearing have been a part of his life since he was 3 years old. Frequent therapy is an essential part of a routine to improve his hearing impairment and communication. In order for him to overcome his disability, he must detect a sound, hear the sound, pay attention to the sound, discriminate it and assign meaning to the sound. This type of auditory discrimination doesn’t come easily for those born with hearing loss. Countless hours in a therapist’s office have become a familiar part of the week for patients like Chaiden. When other little boys are playing sports or showing interest in other after school hobbies, Chaiden is busy participating in therapy to overcome his auditory impairment.
With constant changes in the insurance industry and medical reimbursement constantly varying, limitations routinely affect families with children who receive speech, occupational and physical therapy. Can you imagine your child needs therapy four times per week and you were suddenly limited by your insurance, allowing your child therapy only once per week? For example, what was once an allowance of eight therapies per discipline may be reduced to an allocation of two therapies per discipline and many children may be left without the ability to afford care. With such shortages in therapy coverage, children like Chaiden were left suffering. Fortunately for Chaiden and other lucky children, a portion of their therapy is now paid for by a grant from the Foundation for Therapeutic Options.
Funding Equals Progress in Therapy
Founded in 2006, The Foundation for Therapeutic Options is a local non-profit that believes children with disabilities should be afforded every opportunity possible to enhance the quality of their lives. Floyd’s mom, Coquita Snow, says that it takes her child a little while to settle down when he arrives at therapy, sometimes cutting in to the insurance allotted time for therapy. “The Foundation for Therapeutic Options has given us funding and it really helps him by allowing him more time to settle down and then focus on his therapy. He has progressed more and has been able to meet his goals,” says Snow who notes how Chaiden has come a long way. “His therapist is so patient with him and works so well with him,” she says.
For Jennifer Jones, who holds a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology and Audiology and is Board Certified in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders, seeing her idea come to fruition in the form of helping children of the CSRA is extremely gratifying. Jones experienced frustration with a lack of insurance coverage on the front lines in her practice, Therapeutic Interventions, as well on the home front with her own children who have special needs. She knew the children she treated needed more therapy and when Medicaid changed their reimbursement policy, she began seeing patients for free. While talking to her brother one day, he suggested she start a foundation to offer funding to cover the therapy. Paperwork was filed, a board of directors was formed and the rest is history.
Raising Money for the Cause
Since it’s inception, the Foundation for Therapeutic Options has given away over $600,000 to help patients in need of therapy. The Foundation receives funding several ways including private donations, grants and through fundraising. The biggest challenge Jones faces is getting the word out about what the Foundation is and getting people used to giving to the Foundation. The highlight of the year is their annual Talent Showcase, Exceptional Children of the CSRA. Each spring children from around the special needs community come together for a well-attended talent show fundraiser. From ballet and vocal performances to bongo drums and freestyle dance, children are recognized for their abilities rather than disabilities. Afterward, an art auction takes place where patrons continue to enjoy the arts while having the opportunity to purchase artwork created by some of the participants.
Jones feels that there is no child that should go without therapy. “Every child that comes into this clinic should be able to receive therapy,” says Jones of her own private clinic. She says the biggest reward for her is seeing these children functional and independent with a smile on their face.
The Foundation for Therapeutic Options has networked with several providers in town to offer services for patients who receive the grants. In addition to Jones’ clinic, CSRA Therapy Services, Neuro-Developmental Treatment Programs, Pediatric Therapy Intervention, Inc. and Pediatric Therapy Partners are also currently providers for the Foundation.
If you are interested in becoming a provider, please contact the Foundation at www.therapyoptions.org. As a parent of a child who needs funding for speech, occupational or physical therapy or their supplies, applications are reviewed several times each year in March, June, September and December. Applications are available on the website and may be submitted anytime. If you are interested in donating to The Foundation for Therapeutic Options, their website also has information on giving as well as other resources for special needs children in the community.
Mary Ashton Mills lives in Augusta with her husband and two children. Her work has appeared in Charleston Magazine, The Post and Courier and Augusta Family Magazine.
This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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