Special-needs families: Help is out there

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Ken Reid has been in a wheelchair for 26 years, ever since a car accident in his 20s. After mourning the loss of the life he envisioned for himself, he discovered joy helping others in the same situation. 

Reid is now an assistive technology professional, adapting technology for people with special needs. One of his more popular products is an automated toy car, modified for kids who have mobility challenges. Rather than pushing a pedal with their foot, they can push the wheel with their hand or head for it to move. 

“My reward is actually helping people see that their life isn’t over and they can still live a very fulfilling life,” Reid said at the Families With Special Needs Summit on base recently. More than 80 agencies converged at The Landing to help families with special needs. 

Too often, families with special needs don’t realize the vast number of opportunities available to them, said Tammy Custer, EFMP-FS Specialist at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. 

“This can take the pressure off for families to realize there are therapies and options available to them, or maybe they don’t know what they need until they see a new therapy that didn’t exist several years ago. There are federal, state, and local agencies with services that can significantly reduce the burdens and stressors placed upon their lives.”

Stewart Christensen, with Advanced Brain Technologies, sees that a lot when people learn about the drug-free and noninvasive methods his company provides — such as the Listening Program method of listening therapy to support clinical treatments for all ages. The program has been available for several years, but people either don’t realize it’s available, or don’t think their insurance coverages the treatments, he says. 

“The brain responds to the sound of music therapy that pills can’t for children or adults with autism,” Christensen said. “When people don’t want to keep pumping themselves with drugs, which is often just a Band-Aid, ours is a cure because we are healing the brain and making it possible for an individual to function and speak better, which are results that you don’t get out of a bottle.”

Jennifer Arthurs, of Roy, came to the event in search of opportunities to help her 10-year-old son, DJ, who is autistic and nonverbal. What she found was a plethora of camps, programs and options she didn’t previously know about. “I just like knowing there are so many options out there and that there are people available to help me,” Arthurs said. 

New this year is the statewide mandate for insurance to have inclusive coverage, including behavior therapies, such as the treatments offered through APEX Behavior Counseling, another provider at the event, which allows therapists across the state to come into individual’s homes for one-on-one therapy. 

“I think a lot of times people are looking for programs, but think insurance won’t cover anything, but they don’t realize that they are covered,” said Casi Foroughi, with APEX Behavior Counseling.

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