The Co$t of Autism

So how much does autism actually cost? The Government subsidizes $6k a year. I reckon add another $80k and you’re getting closer.

It’s all about early intervention right?

To those who haven’t had first hand experience with autism, early intervention means saying and repeating actions and flashing picture cards to your child hundreds of times a day in the hope that the repetition creates the synapse. Unfortunately, the therapists usually only have an hour with your child and so they become your therapy teacher… you as a parent do the rest.

As you can imagine, repeating actions with your child hundreds of times a day while at work seems an impossibility and so more often than not, there goes an income.

It wasn’t long after we’d built our home that Teddy was diagnosed with autism. My husband and I agreed that I would take on the role of “at home therapist” while he cracked on bringing home the bacon. It wasn’t enough though. Our mortgage was big, our outgoings too much and it became obvious I had to return to work… but I couldn’t leave Teddy and he wasn’t severe enough to qualify for the autism kinder programs.

The solution? Air BnB. We holiday let our house every weekend for almost two years so I could stay with Teddy.

That’s right, every Friday I would pack the car and “immaculatise” our house, stay with our parents, then on Sunday move back home again.

One friend said to me “ I couldn’t do that” and I’ve got to say, some weekends it was soul destroying. Here I am, busting my gut, staying at my in-laws only to have some DINK’y (Double income no kids) berate me for “dust behind the microwave” or “only one hand towel each”. I just wanted to punch them in the face. Another friend said to me “it’s so sad that you’ve built this beautiful house and you don’t get to enjoy it”. My reply would be “I think we’re fortunate to have a house that can subsidise Teddy’s therapy”.

At one point I was on a publicity tour with channel 7 for “The Paul Hogan Story”. I was whisked around the country, from frock to frock, hotel to hotel, interview to interview but then I’d have to race back home to clean the house for the next guests and deal with Teddy’s toileting phobias.

I felt like Cinder-f@#$%!-rella.

 One day however, a friend of mine said to me “I take my hat off to you and what you’re doing for your son”. She probably didn’t realise that that one comment turned my embarrassment about our situation into a sense of pride. I thought, “you’re right. I’m doing what needs to be done. Go me”.

As an actor I’ve had a reasonable amount of success in my career. However, I’m still yet to get that Logie nod. This year, it was another Nikki free Logies however this year, my reward felt far greater and I posted this.

So yes. The cost of autism has been expensive, but it’s been an excellent investment.

Nikki will be contributing a number of these brilliant stories over the coming months. If you’d like to keep an eye on the day to day adventures we recommend following her on Facebook and Instagram.