Autism Help is on the Way

We’ve heard about the alarming increase of children on the autism spectrum: 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys (Autism Speaks).

We don’t know the cause or cure for autism, a communication and social disorder. But there are some promising therapies that have been shown to improve the lives of children with autism and their families. Early intervention is key. Use this brief checklist for some of the signs of autism if you have concerns and get your child screened as early as possible by your child’s doctor or psychologist.

coatApplied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been used by therapists since the 1960s to understand how and why people behave the way they do. ABA therapists learn about each individual to find out how their environment affects their behavior and what motivates them. They use this knowledge to come up with ways to teach routines and even language skills to children with autism. Watch this short video about one type of ABA intervention.

With more children diagnosed with autism, there is a growing need for ABA therapists. And help is on the way – the Applied Behavioral Analysis International Association (ABAI) is gearing up to train more young people as ABA therapists. They are bringing in the troops!

Girl washes faceBoard Certified Behavior Analysts do additional coursework beyond a Master’s degree and an exam is required to be certified. They work with children in schools and in their homes. In addition to working with children, they teach teachers and parents how behavior analysis works and how to practice it, empowering all of the people around the child. This has an additional benefit of reducing stress in teachers and parents. ABA therapy has been proven in research studies to improve outcomes for children with autism.

But therapy is expensive for families and school districts and it has been difficult in the past to persuade insurance companies to cover the costs of autism therapies. Fortunately for families of children with autism, the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obamacare) is here.

The ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people with “preexisting” conditions, such as autism. Children are covered until age 26 and autism screenings are free. Twenty-four states require insurance companies to cover ABA therapies. That means we’re going to need a lot more therapists!

Boy washes handsABA therapy is now a growing job market. Small and large businesses are on the rise. If you are interested in becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, check out the accreditation information. These folks say that it is important, fulfilling work to help children and families live a better life.

If you have a child with autism and you are looking for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst near you, search here.