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“A Parent’s Choice for Autism Treatments”

As a parent of a child with autism, I have tried several forms of reputable behavioral intervention approaches (as well as many approaches) in order to find the best fit for my child and family. While ABA has been a helpful treatment for some children with Austism Spectrum Disorder, it was not helpful for my child or family. After several years of intensive ABA, with little results, my child thrived with a developmental-relationship based treatment approach called Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) which has some simiarities to a DIR-Floortime model . As a result of this therapy, my child has been able to have friendships and be in a mainstream classroom with little to no other services. My child continues to make progress with this approach. RDI was instrumental in teaching my child joint attention and social engagement as well as how to communicate in meaningful ways with others. We still have more work but he will have more success in our society as a result of the RDI intervention. In addition, my child’s cognitive skills developed to the point that he was able to problem solve and learn abstract ways of thinking. My child has grown cognitively, socially, and emotionally and his behavior has drastically improved thanks to RDI. In 2011, the following 2 randomized, controlled studies on DIR-Floortime (Casenhiser D.M., Shanker S., Stieben J, 2011; Pajareya K, Kopmaneejumruslers K, 2011) showed statistically significant improvements in children with autism. Several more randomized, controlled studies on this treatment are nearing conclusion.

I am concerned that future insurance protocol will limit my choice as a parent to make an educated and informed decision on the best treatment for my child. ABA is not a good fit for my child or family and I am urging you to authorize other evidence-based behavioral interventions such as DIR-Floortime and RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) as eligible interventions under the new insurance guidelines.

I am also requesting that the government adopt the recommendations by the Institute of Medicine to update Essential Health Benefits based on new evidence about effective interventions.

~ Mara B., Parent of a child with autism