Dan Horn reports:
Thousands of autistic children across Ohio could soon get access to an intensive and costly treatment program that state officials have said they are not obligated to provide.
The U.S. Department of Education told state officials in a letter last week that applied behavior analysis, also known as ABA therapy, must be made available to any child who is considered a good candidate to receive it.
“This is huge,” said Richard Ganulin, a Cincinnati lawyer who has fought for wider availability of the treatment. “The U.S. government has ordered the state of Ohio to fix what it’s been doing wrong.”
The order comes as state officials continue to fight in federal court with a Clermont County couple over whether federal law requires Ohio to provide the treatment, which some parents of autistic children believe is the most effective care available.
Holly and Robert Young sued the state last year after the Ohio Department of Health refused to provide ABA therapy for their son, Roman, through the state’s “Help Me Grow” program. They said their son, now 3, thrived in the therapy and regressed without it.
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett ordered the treatment program reinstated for Roman until his third birthday, at which time his local school district assumed responsibility for providing it.
But the judge’s order didn’t change the way Ohio handles the treatment of autistic children under the age of 3, and it did not guarantee they would have access to ABA therapy if it was deemed the best possible treatment.
Ganulin said that’s why the letter sent last week is so important: It says the state must make ABA available or risk losing the millions of dollars in federal money it receives each year for the treatment of disabled children.
The letter from Melody Musgrove, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s special education programs, said the state must make available early intervention services that “include applied behavior analysis.”
The letter warned that the department is monitoring the litigation in Ohio and that the state is responsible for following the rules related to early intervention services.
Posted in: News |