The previous post outlined the absurd policies of the Autism Funds Unit (AFU) when it comes to material funding. There are only two logical explanations for such bizarre rules:
- The government bureaucracy is trying to justify its existence and maintain a large workforce or
- They are trying to ensure that you don’t spend your funds which are then returned to the government and undoubtedly used for bonuses for the department heads who underspend their budgets.
OK, so why bother using material funding at all? Most people will easily fill their yearly funding allowance with behaviour intervention for their child.
One reason is if you are on a shoestring budget and simply have no money left for autism therapy, then you must somehow manage the yearly autism funds to cover intervention, training and materials.
The majority of us spend well in excess of the available autism funds. In this case you are better off to claim the maximum allowable ($1,200 or $4,400) for material funding. The reason is that funds spent out of your pocket for intervention can be used as a medical expense on your annual income tax. This could result in a refund as much as 20% of the total depending on your income level. Money spent on material goods in support of an autism therapy program are ineligible as a medical expense (Yes, this has been tested in the Tax Court of Canada).
So what can you use your funds for? It’s a bit of a challenge to spend your entitlement, but here are some ideas:
- Flash cards
- Reinforcement toys
- General supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, binders, clips, staples
- Printer supplies
- One computer or iPad or Touch Screen device every three years
- CDs or DVDs relating to the therapy program
- Travel to and from autism intervention (round trip greater than 80 kms) or training
- Autism conferences
- Computer programs (remember to justify their use) such as Microsoft Office or autism specific programs
- iPad apps (again justify their use)
- Arts and crafts
- Membership for the Canucks Autism Network
If you know of any other items that can be claimed, please let us know in the comments section.
There is no reason why your purchases must be made in Canada. With all the high priced help in the Autism Funds Unit, I’m sure they can calculate exchange rates.
Nothing in the AFU guidance indicates that the purchase must be a new product. As long as you have a proper receipt, I see no reason that the purchase can’t be “pre-owned”.
- Tips for managing material funding
5 thoughts on “Material Funding Secrets Revealed – Part 2”
While I agree that the rules, or rather the interpretation of them, seem arbitrary and unfair, and I wish it was consistent and clear when I try to plan for my son’s program, in my 15 years experience as a government department head, I have never received a bonus for underspending my budget. I think the reality was left in the comments in the last post. Those that misappropriate their funds mess it up for the rest of us. Gvernment agencies often react on the far end of the continuum to reduce their risk or close loopholes, to the detriment of those who follow rules.
It’s true government departments don’t get to keep the money they don’t spend to save for a future project nor do they get commended for not spending all their budget. In fact, if they don’t spend their budget they usually get less the next year. This is why if there is money left at the end of the fiscal year they purchase expensive new desks and chairs, etc…. of course they don’t have a complicated justification system like us parents do to get the materials we need. I’m now on request 4 for the same thing which will allow my child to feed himself… geez people use some common sense if the wording isn’t correct.
That is a fair point and I agree with everything you wrote. Honestly I didn’t actually believe the individual department heads were financially profiting from our misery and the comment was made somewhat tongue in cheek.
They are however using a sledgehammer to kill a flea. Yes there is fraud, but with the hoops that we all have to jump through, I believe the actual number is quite low.
Autism Funding I feel simply makes the rules as they go along and one person says okay to something and another will say no.
This part here
One computer or iPad or Touch Screen device every three years, that you now read in the Handbook is there because I complained to Ombudsmen about them saying that statement and saying to refer to handbook, which at the time I was complaining it wasnt in the handbook anywhere. It is now.
They dont let you decide what your kid needs, they decide and these are all people who have no experiance/education about autism.
If you buy books, you can only bill AFU if the books have the work autism in them.
There are many things I can complain about, but…..complaining about AFU does nothing, kinda like complaining about the Public School does nothing, which is why for the third and final time I pulled my boy out of there and am doing homeschooling.
BTW, maybe you can add the following somewhere on your awesome site and that is if you have a child with autism and they need some tutoring, check out Sylvan. I had no idea that kids with autism could also attend Sylvan but they can, and they are already set up for billing AFU directly. Its also pretty reasonable, 57 per hour. My boy has so far put in 20hrs and Sylvan has accomplished more with him in that short time then the public school did in three mths.
Sylvia Armstrong Parent/Advocate
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You can also buy toys that help with role play and social skills. We purchased a lot of really good toys in our first year using our funding. We bought things like puppets, a marble tower, hot wheels, Melissa and Doug wooden dress up dolls, blocks, puzzles, a train set, costumes, playdoh sets, plastic food sets, board games, fisher price imaginext playsets, and Mr Potato Head.
All of these things have been used to help with our child’s play skills and have been used for supervised playdates to help with social skills with his peers.
We also bought dot to dot books, visual timers, Model Me Kids and Watch Me Learn DVDs.
I highly recommend making sure that you will have the supplies that your child needs to thrive in their program. As I did all of this purchasing in the first year as now all of our finding goes straight to his at home program.