Saturday, March 03, 2007

Clinic Notes: ABA and Criminal Intent

In recent Schafer Report (3/2/07) an article stated that early diagnosis of autism, when the brain has more neuroplasticity, is critical for effective treatment and yet very difficult. Part of the problem is getting parents, pediatricians, and other caregivers to recognize the early signs of autism and part of the problem is finding effective ABA, speech, and OT that is affordable and accessible. In the state where I practice the "Tennessee Early Intervention System" will pay for service up to age three. So if we can screen and identify kids by age two we have a year to work with them. After age 3 the school system is responsible for services and this is when the system often breaks down. Some school systems are very good about paying for services. Other schools systems depend on their special education programs to treat autism. Of course, most special education teachers are not trained in ABA so the school system usually sends the teachers to a few wrkshops. This does not solve the problem. It keeps the children with autism in special education and builds the census and funding. But the children with autism usually do not get the level of professional services that they are entitled to. The school systems know this and I think withholding services for these kids is criminal. There is no other word for it.

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