The world of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is about to get a little bit harder for many families to take advantage of. According to Heraldnet.com, thousands of families and ABA autism programs could be affected by a funding cut from one of the industry’s largest demonstration programs currently ongoing.
Right now, Tricare, the military’s health insurance program, covers ABA therapy through this demonstration program for more than 10,000 military families and retirees with autistic kids. Many in the industry, and even political lawmakers, are voicing their displeasure with the company’s move in an attempt to get them to reverse course.
“The 15% reduction in rates is crippling for an agency,” said Jennifer Orme, director of South Sound Behavior Therapy of Olympia. She claims 88% of her patients are Tricare beneficiaries. “We have already reduced overhead staff, and will reduce the pay of our employees.” Given these cuts, Orme added, “we are not sure how many employees will chose to continue to stay (and) provide ABA services.”
Autism is technically a disorder of neural development. It is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The official diagnostic protocol for autism requires that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Not only can it have a direct impact on a child’s ability to learn and develop in the classroom/intellectual setting, but also impairs their ability in social and interpersonal areas as well.
ABA therapy training has been proven effective at helping to treat and improve day-to-day functions in autistic children. Starting children in these programs early is crucial as early behavioral or cognitive intervention has been proven to help autistic children gain self-care, social, and communication skills. As with most cognitive learning, the longer you wait to try and learn these things, the harder it will be to adapt to.
Over 40 members of Congress have already put their name behind two separate complaints aimed at Tricare and their proposed reduction. One letter was signed by four senators and the other by 40 members of the House of Representatives.
Access to these programs and therapy sessions are incredibly important to many families. Consider contacting your local legislators and asking them to sign on to join the fight against these reductions if they haven’t already.