Grants and Financial Resources for Families Living With Autism

Many families wonder whether they can write a grant proposal and receive funds to help them manage the financial challenges that come with an autism spectrum diagnosis.

The good news is that there are such grants; the bad news is that most are very small (less than $500), and all are very competitive. What's more, many will only pay for specific medical expenses, and send the funds directly to the medical provider. A growing number of foundations, though, 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.

Before you apply for any grant, read the guidelines carefully and know the organization you're applying to. Some are very specific in their interests, and others focus largely on funding alternative therapies.

Be sure that you really need the grant: sometimes other options are more easily available and provide more and better services. For example, a grant for summer camp may not provide as much in the way of services as school-provided Extended School Year programs for which your child may well qualify.

Act Today for Autism Grants

autistic boy playing with blocks
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Act Today for Autism gives grants of $100 to $5,000 to families with an income of under $100,000. Their priorities include families with multiple autistic children first; then those with greater financial need. They also give special priority to military families. Says their website:

To best maximize your chance of being funded, please be aware that we will not fund:

  • Transportation requests (cars, car repair, transportation passes, air travel)
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
  • Personal Needs (rent, utilities, family vacations)

United Healthcare Children's Foundation

The grants from United Healthcare Children's Foundation provide financial relief for families who have children with medical needs not covered or not fully covered by their commercial health benefit plan. The Foundation aims to fill the gap between what medical services/items your child needs and what your commercial health benefit plan will pay for. The Foundation is quite specific about who qualifies for funding, and what the funding will pay for; for example, children must be under 16 and covered under private-pay insurance.

AutismSpeaks Cares

AutismSpeaks Cares is a program created by the nonprofit Autism Speaks to support families with an autistic member that are affected by natural disasters and similar catastrophes.

The link provided goes to a page with general information about financial resources; there is no online application. According to the website, "to learn more and complete an application to determine final eligibility, families must first speak with a representative from the Autism Response Team."

The Doug Flutie Foundation (Joey's Fund)

The Doug Flutie Foundation generally funds organizations, but it also offers individual grants through Joey's Fund: "Joey's Fund Family Grant Program accepts grant applications from families in New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine) that are in need of financial assistance for their family member(s) with autism.

Families can apply for up to $2,000 through the program (up to $3,000 if​ the grant would benefit more than one family member with autism). According to the website, "You may apply for one service or item that directly improves the life of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. "

Allison Keller Educational Technology Program

Also funded by the Doug Flutie Foundation, the Allison Keller Educational Technology Program provides up to $7,500 for the purchase of tablets, pads, smartboards, and other tools (and training) for children with autism. While these grants are not available to individual families, families can work with their schools to apply for the funds.

Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)

AANE has been given the opportunity, through the generosity of the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation and private donors, to offer cash grants of $50 to $500 to fund items or therapies that will improve the life of someone living with Asperger syndrome (high functioning autism). The money is available only to those living in New England, and priority will be given to families with an income at or under $44,100 (for a family of four).

Additional Grant-Related Resources

 In addition to the list above, which includes only larger organizations that give directly to families, be sure to check out these online directories. They include (for example) grants given only to families in specific counties, grants to support specific therapies, scholarship funds, and more:

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  1. U.S. Department of Education. Sec. 300.106 Extended school year services. Updated May 3, 2017.