Autism’s New Model

Parents with children on the spectrum are finding themselves thrust into at-home applied behavioral analysis and learning “to be a therapist” on the fly, like Sam Francis, one dad we talked to last week who says he was “up all night” taking a training course to help his 9-year-old son who “used to go to the center 25 hours a week.” “Long term the gates have been opened for tele ABA,” according to James Craig, an LCSW and former VP of Clinical Autism Services at Beacon Health Options. Craig, who spoke on our behavioral health call April 3rd, said this means both direct-to-patient clinical services as well as parent training. Studies show that tele ABA can be just as effective as in-person care even though use of it was limited before the crisis. This should change and this is a good development, Craig said, especially after health insurers have time to study what is and is not working. For clinic-based ABA, this likely further accelerates the importance of diversifying services and may accelerate discussions about the appropriate level of payment and incentives as more care shifts to a home, community and tele model, rather than center + home.

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