Autism services struggle to keep up with demand in Colorado

Autism services struggle to keep up with demand in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Families in Colorado Springs say they've been told our city is one of the best in the nation for autism services, but not everyone agrees after having to wait months on waitlists.

"This city has been the best place for my special-needs child, whether it's through his education or therapy," one parent said about services in Colorado Springs.

"There are not enough centers to keep up with the demand. It is hard to get an appointment because of the overload. And most of the time the centers are way too crowded, which sucks for kids with sensory issues," another parent said.

Many parents we spoke with say the number of specialized providers hasn’t kept up with the increasing number of children identified as autistic. Therapists at Resonate Music Therapy say they've seen a similar increase.

"Currently I'm telling people our wait list is about 3 to 4 months," said Marissa Ferl, owner of Resonate Music Therapy.

Zach's Place, an organization for kids who need specialized care has also seen an increase in the number of children identifying as autistic.

"We currently have about 3 to 4 week waitlist and our predominant audience is kids with autism. And we're seeing the wait not only to get in with us but then the wait for families to get behavioral services and speech therapy and OT," said Dianna Manz with Zach's Place.

About one out of every 72 children in Colorado were diagnosed with autism in 2014, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I have a 15-year-old. We moved here about two years ago. We noticed a long waitlist for services like speech and ABA therapy," one parent said. 

"We’ve been here for over five years, I have definitely seen the decline in services, and it is directly affecting my youngest son," another parent with three autistic children said.

Resonate Music Therapy serves 70 to 85 clients every week and is already thinking about expanding.

"I do forsee that we could accept up to 100 if we're able to get another therapist," Ferl said.

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