Grants for Families Living With Autism

Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be very expensive. The child may need therapy for speech or social skills, or a specialized summer camp program; you might also decide the child in your care would do best in a private school. It is estimated that the lifetime cost for a person with autism averages between $1.4 million and $2.4 million, depending on if the person has an intellectual disability.

Fortunately, grants and scholarships are available for families to offset the financial challenges that come with having a child or other family member with autism. They tend to be very competitive, and many will only pay for specific expenses, usually billed directly to the provider. However, a growing number of foundations are making autism a priority for non-profit grants, which means local organizations that serve families have a better chance of receiving funds than ever before.

Here are the basics about five notable national and regional organizations that provide grants for families who have a child with autism.

Before applying for a grant, make sure you really need it: Sometimes other options are easier to attain and offer better services. For example, a grant for summer camp may not provide as much in the way of services as an extended school year program. Then, carefully read the guidelines for the grant you're interested in to make sure the goals of the organization that offers it align with the needs of the child in your care.

Autism Cares Today

autistic boy playing with blocks
UrsaHoogle / Getty Images

Autism Cares Today provides funding to families throughout the United States on a quarterly basis.

Grant amounts: $100 to $5,000

Who is eligible: Priority is given to families with multiple autistic children, military families, and those with an annual income under $100,000.

Expenses covered include:

Expenses not covered include:

  • Transportation requests (cars, car repair, transportation passes, air travel)
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Personal needs (rent, utilities, family vacations)

United Healthcare Children's Foundation

United Healthcare Children's Foundation provides financial relief for families whose health insurance does not cover, or fully cover, their child's medical needs. The Foundation aims to fill the gap between what medical services or items your child needs and what your commercial health benefit plan will pay for.

Grant amounts: Varies

Who is eligible:

  • Children under age 16 who have a social security number
  • Children who are covered by a commercial health plan, either through a parent's employer or purchased individually (secondary insurance through Medicaid or CHIP is allowed)
  • Families whose annual income is $55,000 or less for a family of two; $85,000 or less for a family of three; $115,000 or less for a family of four; or $145,000 or less for a family of five or more

Expenses covered include: Treatments, equipment, and services prescribed by a medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) or doctor of audiology (AuD) only

Expenses not covered: The following treatments and services are among the list of grant exclusions:

  • Social skills therapy
  • Electronic devices, such as tablets and laptops
  • Summer camp programs

National Autism Association Helping Hand Program

NAA’s Helping Hand Program is intended only for families in dire financial need.

Grant amounts: Up to $1,500

Who is eligible: Families earning an annual net income of less than $50,000

Expenses covered include:

  • Biomedical treatments
  • Supplements
  • Therapy services

Expenses not covered include:

Asperger/Autism Network of New England (AANE)

AANE provides grants with help from the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation and private donors to people with Asperger's syndrome, which is now known as high-functioning autism or level 1 autism spectrum disorder.

Grant amounts: $50 to $500

Who is eligible: Families living in New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine), with priority given to families with an income at or under $44,100 for a family of four

Expenses covered include:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Adaptive swimming lessons
  • Puzzles and games
  • Respite care
  • Books and videos
  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Music classes/instruments

Expenses not covered include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Travel expenses

Joey's Fund Family Grant Program

The Doug Flutie Foundation generally funds other organizations, but also offers individual grants through Joey's Fund.

Grant amounts: Up to $2,000, or $3,000 if the grant would benefit more than one family member with autism

Who is eligible: Families in New England who are in need of financial assistance for their family member(s) with autism.

Expenses covered include:

  • Respite care
  • Recreational programs
  • Educational evaluations
  • Computer software
  • Communication needs
  • Therapies
  • Camp tuition
  • Safety-related items

Expenses not covered include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Travel expenses

Additional Grant-Related Resources

In addition to the list above, be sure to check out these online directories for more regional organizations and those that provide grants for adults with autism, education, and travel.

Tips for Applying

Each organization has its own grant application and process, which can make it confusing if you're applying for several at once. Follow these tips to make sure you're on the right track:

  • Read through the entire application first. Gather everything you'll need, such as tax statements and IEPs. Consider making a checklist so you don't forget anything, and make sure you don't miss the deadline.
  • Choose wisely. Most autism organizations will only provide funding for specific types of therapies and services, so don't bother to fill out an application that may not provide what you need.
  • Make a personal connection. Some applications may ask for information about your child and why you are seeking the services they cover. Consider including a photo of your child and/or a recommendation letter (some applications don't require them but will still accept them).
  • Try again if you don’t succeed the first time. It's impossible for organizations to grant financial help to every family that applies. The next time you apply, you may be among the families that receive aid.
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Autism Speaks. Financial resources.

  2. U.S. Department of Education. Sec. 300.106 Extended school year services.

By Lisa Jo Rudy
Lisa Jo Rudy, MDiv, is a writer, advocate, author, and consultant specializing in the field of autism.