Autism Treatment Made Available to More in Need

Kelley Prince, owner of Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay in Westchase, talks about what a recent court ruling will mean to families with autistic children.

A long-used, but previously uncovered treatment will now be available to families who have autistic children and are on Medicaid.

That was the ruling made by a U.S. Judge last week, according to this AP story.

According to the story, U.S. Judge Joan Lenard ruled Friday that applied behavioral analysis be covered by Medicaid. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration had not previously covered the treatment.

Applied behavioral analysis is the science of human behavior and manipulating environmental variables to improve behavior, said Kelley Prince of Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay.

The treatment is routinely used for children with autism; however, it had not been covered by Medicaid.

"We get several calls a day for parents with Medicaid who are seeking therapy," said Prince, who has an office located at 6916 W Linebaugh Ave.

Previously families who had autistic children on Medicaid would most likely only receive speech and occupational therapy for their children.

It can cost up to $25,000 a year for intensive ABA therapy, Prince said.

ABA therapy involves closely analyzing behavioral patterns and developing intervention methods to remedy negative behavior. It's particularly useful for autistic children who may lack the communication skills needed to convey why they are acting out in a particular manner.

"They're not able to ask for things they want," said Prince, who has been a behavior therapist since 1997. "With behavioral analysis, we can work on reducing the problem behaviors."

By determining what the child is motivated by, therapist and parents can use those methods to improve behavior.

Prince added that ABA therapy has been studied for the past 30 years and has been shown to be effective.

"It's a science. What we're doing, we know has worked in the past with others," she said. "The reason it's effective is it's a lot of repeated practice of repeated skills."

It is estimated that 1 in 110 children have autism in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Next up for autism advocates is a push to mandate that autism intervention be covered by all private insurance companies. Some smaller companies are not required to provide the treatment in their coverage plans.

"It's the next logical step," Prince said.

Want to help kids with Autism? Take part in the 2012 Tampa Bay Walk Now for Autism Event.

When: April 21, 2012

Where: Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway

For more information contact: tampa@autismspeaks.org or (407)478-6330


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