The Military Still Doesn’t Cover This Valuable Autism Therapy For Dependents

Assisted Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy has helped some children on the Autism spectrum to achieve success.

Since the mid-1980s, there has been evidence that ABA has contributed to the steady accumulation of intelligence, language and social functions in children with ASD.

Assisted Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a valuable treatment for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Assisted Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a valuable treatment for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Many medical professionals and organizations agree that ABA is the most effective treatment available, helping those with autism lead happy and productive lives. According to Autism Speaks, ABA is a flexible treatment, which can be:

  • Can be adapted to meet the needs of each unique person
  • Provided in many different locations – at home, at school, and in the community
  • Teaches skills that are useful in everyday life
  • Can involve one-to-one teaching or group instruction

However, the Department of Defense (DoD) does not acknowledge the validity of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in treating the symptoms of autism. The military’s primary health care program, TRICARE, covers treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosed by an approved provider. ABA treatment was previously accessible to military families through the DoD’s Autism Care Demonstration project. As DoD lawyers continue to argue against covering ABA, citing “a lack of effectiveness” in the therapy, coverage for ABA is no longer available.

This leaves over 23,000 military dependents living on the spectrum, without access to a valuable treatment.

There are close to 23,000 military dependents living on the spectrum.
There are close to 23,000 military dependents living on the spectrum.

Already burdened by the constant moving and social turmoil of military life, these families must now pay out of pocket for this costly yet vital therapy.

“DoD has been playing fast and loose with science to discredit a highly effective autism therapy and, apparently, substitute a cheaper and less effective treatment,” David Fuscus, spokesman for the National Coalition for Access to Autism Services, told the Military Times.

As Attentive Behavior Care reports, children tend to respond best to the therapy at a younger age. The longer families are denied access to the treatment they need to thrive, the more they lose to help their loved ones.

Military families must cover the cost of ABA treatment on their own.
Military families must often cover the cost of ABA treatment on their own.

Current TRICARE policy labels ABA as “educational intervention” and places restrictive caps on who can receive benefits and how much they can receive. Even federal courts have called TRICARE’s designation “arbitrary and capricious.”

Thousands of military families affected by this policy are being denied access to the benefits they earned. Help us take a stand and ask the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to support military families by supporting ABA treatment for children with Autism!

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