Sunday, February 24, 2008

Through the Looking Glass: ABA in Wonderland

A diagnosis of autism in a child can be horrible news for the family. Of course, after the diagnosis the physician or psychologist discusses the services the child will need to overcome autism and hopefully mainstream in the school system. According to the CDC and other government heath care agencies, as well as and most health care professionals now realize that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the treatment of choice. ABA will teach the child with autism to follow directions, not tantrum or be aggressive, and make it easier for speech, OT, teachers, and other professionals to work with these children. After getting a diagnosis of autism and information on services the real fun begins for parents. Usually, finding someone competent to do ABA with their child and how to pay becomes an issue. (Usually insurance companies say that ABA is experimental and will not pay.) ABA providers range from Psychologists with Ph.D's who are licensed Health Care Providers (HSP) to someone who has been to a few workshops. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) hold Master's degrees and have specified graduate courses in ABA, a long supervised internship, and must pass a comprehensive national exam. In my view BCBA's hold the minimum qualifications. Of course there are not enough Psychologist and BCBA's around and the ones that are around are booked up and have long waiting lists. So many parents find themselves looking for ABA because it is the single most effective treatment for autism and wondering why it is not more widely available.

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