Autism affects 1 out of every 88 children in the United States alone. The condition is known to affect five times more males than females, and its symptoms range from mild to severe. While some children can function on a daily basis and do so with quirks and odd habits, others are entirely nonverbal and their behavior patterns can change drastically from moment to moment. Pharmacies can offer support to families and youth alike by taking steps to provide adequate social and medical care in their facilities.
Often, pharmacies will be the last stop in what is often a busy schedule. Families do more in less than time than ever. Autistic youth and adults may have extensive—and expensive—behavioral and psychological assessments or evaluations. These coupled with the cost of a possible prescription drug treatment can be a hardship for families. Offering generic prescriptions where available in a patient’s medication regime can help offset a financial burden. Treating children with autism can cost a family up to $3 million dollars over their lifetime. Oftentimes, families will have to pay for occupational, behavioral, and psychiatric therapies out of pocket if their insurance program does not cover the costs for autism therapies. Helping clients manage prescription costs by verifying scripts are accurate and substituting generics where able are just some of the ways that a pharmacy can help its customers trying to manage their autism or aid a family member with the condition.
Another way that pharmacies can aid their customers and families with an autistic family member is to connect with support services in the area. Many autism acceptance social groups, playgroups for young children, and informative meetings for parents are available around the United States. Pharmacies can supply a list of autism support groups or resources available for their county by conducting a simple web search, or visiting Autism Key to find an organization in their area. Finding support and knowing that one is not alone is a vital tool that can make sure that those living with autism, their parents, and families are able to receive the care and support from their local community that they need.
Fostering a relationship with a local autism charity to raise funds for autism awareness is another way that pharmacies may be able to raise awareness and support a good cause. The Dan Marino Foundation and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network are just two of the charities that are causes seeking to better the lives of those with autism and the people who love them.
There are numerous ways that your local pharmacy can both support and raise awareness for autism during the month of April, and this list names only a few—be creative and respectful in your efforts. Speaking for the population with autism is never the goal. Offering to help them share their personal stories and enabling your clients to lead a healthier and happier life, is. What are some tools that your team has implemented to raise autism awareness during April? Share with us in the comments below.