I cannot agree more with Sen. Hinchey (D-NY) that the ABA services should be extended. As anyone with an Autistic child knows, as far as ABA intervention is concerned, more is more. 10 hours per week is great, but 25+ hours would truly be beneficial, especially if the child is not in school for full day. Younger children receiving ABA therapy are more apt to make significant gains in intellectual and social capacity, as compared to those receiving it much later after the diagnosis of Autism is made.
As someone not enlisted in the military, I worry a lot about what my son is learning and the services he needs, and know each year during CSE season that I will need to argue and fight to maintain his services. I cannot fathom how much more of a burden it would be for a mother or father serving in the military to do the same while in harm’s way.
The Pentagon announced Tuesday it is extending a pilot program that provides autism treatment to the children of service members.
Tricare Management Activity will extend the Enhanced Access to Autism Services demonstration program through March 2014, according to a news release.
The initiative allows beneficiaries — qualifying offspring of active-duty personnel — to receive 10 hours a week of applied behavioral analysis, or ABA, a treatment that helps autistic youngsters learn new skills and improve communications.
The program continuation is good news for the families of the estimated 20,000 autistic military children.
But advocates and some members of Congress believe Tricare needs to do more to serve this population.
In a congressional hearing March 8, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., said the program ideally should provide at least 25 to 40 hours a week of treatment, in accordance with standard accepted practices.
But it definitely should be extended to include children of military retirees and medically retired personnel eligible for Tricare, he added.
“Imagine being wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan and forced to medically retire and your child loses his or her autism therapy. We have an obligation to provide the health care needs of our military families,” Hinchey said.