An Associated Press article appeared in a number of newspapers about Michigan parents who are trying to get funding and donations so that their 13-year old daughter can remain in treatment at the Great Lakes Center for Autism Training and Research in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The article, entitled "Elberta parents fight for autistic daughter" by James Cook, is about the struggles of Michigan parents as they attempt to deal with the aggressive behavior of their severely autistic daughter. They have received partial funding for treatment for one month from insurance and their local Community Mental Health agency and are trying to extend treatment for as much as eight months. The cost for treatment and placement at the residential center is $765 per day.
The daughter Issy is prone to violent outbursts and has endangered both herself and the other members of her family. The child's father Matt Stapleton says of his family, "It's a parent's worst nightmare to love your kids so much, but have them feel at risk when they're in the house…I feel like I let my family down when I can't protect them all; I can't protect (daughter) Ainsley or Kelli, and sometimes I can't protect Issy from herself. It's a horrible feeling, and we're hoping that this place can not only give her some tools, but also give us some tools to help with that."
The Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research in Kalamazoo, Michigan, opened last August and was featured in an article at MLive.com, "Great Lakes Center for Autism opens in Kalamazoo; Calley says Southwest Michigan can take lead in treatment" 8/13/12 by Ursula Zerilli. According to the article, more than 100 people joined Lt. Governor Brian Calley, who has a daughter with autism, at the opening of the center that is associated with the Western Michigan University's Department of Psychology. WMU is known for its program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a treatment for children with autism.
Also, according to the article, "the center's opening comes on the heels of Calley's signing of legislation requiring insurers to provide coverage of autism diagnosis and treatment, while directing the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department to create an autism coverage incentive program through which insurance carriers and third-party administrators can seek reimbursement for paid claims. The state also established its first State of Michigan’s Autism Council, on which Fuqua [from the WMU Psychology Department] will serve."
The Great Lakes Center hopes to serve 150 children as both a residential and outpatient treatment center for children with autism and other behavioral disorders.
With any treatment program or residential placement, parents should investigate the pros and cons of the treatment and be fully informed of what they are committing themselves to. Great Lakes Center Web site is a good place to start. The Center is licensed by the state as a Child Welfare Facility. A State licensing Web site has information on licensing and licensing investigations as well as identifying other facilities in the state by county.