Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is one of many therapy options available to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The appropriate assessment and treatment of ASD involves a multidisciplinary team of professionals collaborating with one another to ensure that these children receive all of the appropriate services necessary to achieve successful outcomes. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are critical members of the multidisciplinary team.
Legislation and regulations have been proposed and passed in states related to ABA therapy licensure and insurance coverage of ABA services. ASHA is concerned that, although some states mandate coverage for ABA, other medically necessary services provided by SLPs are being denied reimbursement for services provided. In education settings, such as early intervention and school programs, ABA therapists sometimes act as “gatekeepers” and deny children with ASD access to comprehensive assessment and treatment by only recommending ABA therapy.
The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance [PDF] emphasizing the importance of evaluating children suspected of ASD using a qualified team of professionals and recognizing that ABA is only one method for treating children with ASD.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an informational bulletin [PDF] indicating the importance of audiology and speech-language pathology providers and services for students with ASD under Early Periodic Screening Diagnostic Treatment (EPSDT).
ASHA advocates for SLPs to be included in any comprehensive assessment for individuals with ASD, as SLPs can prioritize intervention objectives and coordinate planning for communicative success. Following are letters sent to states commenting on legislation/regulations that could impact access to audiologists or SLPs.
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