Tuesday, October 28, 2014

California to again cover autism therapy

“…This is something that is going to make a lot of difference for a lot of families in California,” says Norman Williams, the Department of Health Care Services spokesman in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. He is talking about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Children in California enrolled in public healthcare are to regain access to this form of therapy for children with autism after September 15, 2014 when the state became the first in the country to comply with the new federal guidelines issued in July 2014.  

“It can be the difference from a child who can’t communicate at all to being able to say ‘I’m hungry.’ Or ‘I’m tired,’” said Kristin Jacobson, president of Autism Deserves Equal Coverage, an advocacy group.

An article like this should be on the front page of the newspaper. If you are not affected by autism in your family, you might not understand why I’m saying this. The syndrome involves several areas of deficit, including challenging and antisocial behaviors that not only segregates these children, but have a strong effect on their families and cost a great deal of money to the taxpayers. If these children do not receive the help they need they could end up being a heavy burden on society as adults. They might need assistance for life and some of them will never become productive members of society.

ABA therapy involves working closely and intensively with these children to improve their behaviors and develop functional skills. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year, which makes it inaccessible for a majority of families. While private insurance companies must cover the therapy under California law as of a few years ago, it has been left out of Medi-Cal, the sate version of Medicaid.
“This important milestone will ensure that all children in California, regardless of their economic status, will have access to life-changing treatment for autism spectrum disorders,” Senate President Darrell Steinberg said.   
As a proud professional dedicated and committed to implementing ABA therapy with people with special needs, I couldn’t agree more. I see firsthand on a daily basis the burden this spectrum can cause to families. I share in their happiness when their child finally speaks, plays with other kids in the playground instead of standing aside flapping hands or asks for help to complete their work independently. One of the therapists I supervise showed me a few days ago how our student is now able to do one-digit additions by himself. It made my day.  Another student is finally asking for water and to go to the bathroom independently. These may seem like minor steps. Believe me, it is huge for these children.

This is why this article is definitely worthy of the front page news.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA

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