At WCCO in Minneapolis, Liz Collins profiles Nick St. Sauver, an 11-year-old with autism, and his parents Brett and Tammy.
“It’s very difficult to hear your own son say, ‘I don’t want to have autism, I just wish I was dead,'” Brett said.
The fight costs the St. Sauvers at least $10,000 a year between support groups, medications and after-school therapies.
“Cross your fingers that insurance will pay,” Tammy said.
But in many cases it doesn’t. Brett cashed out his 401K years ago to be able to cover all the bills.
“It shouldn’t be so hard, it shouldn’t be so hard,” Brett said.
Last winter, teachers could no longer control Nick at his elementary school. The day his parents were forced to pull him out for the year, they went to a hospital looking for immediate help.
“Nick and I will sit here in the emergency room until you find us a bed,” Brett recalled saying at the hospital.
That wait went on for nine hours.
A report by the Department of Human Services last spring found Minnesota has a severe shortage of psychiatric beds for young patients — the lowest number in 15 years.
But mental health experts don’t believe adding more beds is the only answer, pointing to too few child psychiatrists and too little preventative care as even bigger problems.
Fraser’s Autism Center of Excellence, Minnesota’s largest autism service provider, has seen the demand for their services soar. Pat Pulice is the center’s director.