U.S. Education Department Says ABA Is Not the Only ASD Treatment School and early-intervention programs should not rely on a single treatment method for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and should include speech-language pathologists and other professionals in all decisions regarding evaluation, eligibility determinations and treatment programs, according to the federal special education office.A “Dear Colleague” letter from Melody Musgrove, ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   September 01, 2015
U.S. Education Department Says ABA Is Not the Only ASD Treatment
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   September 01, 2015
U.S. Education Department Says ABA Is Not the Only ASD Treatment
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.20092015.12
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.20092015.12
School and early-intervention programs should not rely on a single treatment method for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and should include speech-language pathologists and other professionals in all decisions regarding evaluation, eligibility determinations and treatment programs, according to the federal special education office.A “Dear Colleague” letter from Melody Musgrove, the director of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Services, responds to reports that “a growing number of children with ASD may not be receiving needed speech and language services, and that speech-language pathologists and other appropriate professionals may not be included in evaluation and eligibility determinations under the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA).”
In particular, she writes, “Some IDEA programs may be including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists exclusively without including, or considering input from, speech-language pathologists and other professionals who provide different types of specific therapies that may be appropriate for children with ASD when identifying IDEA services for children with ASD.”
Under IDEA, a team of professionals that includes the child’s parents is charged with developing an appropriate program that addresses the child’s individual needs.
The Office of Special Education Services (OSEP) letter notes that ABA therapy is just one treatment method for children with ASD, and reminds states and local programs to ensure service decisions are based on the unique needs of each child with a disability and, in early intervention, the needs of the child’s family.

The letter notes that ABA therapy is just one treatment method for children with ASD, and reminds states and local programs to ensure service decisions are based on the unique needs of each child with a disability.

ASHA advocated strongly for OSEP to clarify the ASD treatment issue after receiving information from members and state association leaders that ABA-only policies were finding their way into legislative and regulatory issues. Five states are dealing with ABA issues that affect access to, reimbursement for and decision-making about services for children with ASD. ASHA conveyed these concerns to OSEP, resulting in this clear and direct guidance for states, schools and early intervention programs.
Using ABA specialists to provide services to children identified with ASD is a growing trend in health care as well. Some states have requested and been granted waivers that name ABA providers as the sole gatekeepers for services to children with ASD, eliminating other service options. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responded to this issue with similar guidance in July 2014 stating, “While much of the current national discussion focuses on one particular treatment modality called Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), there are other recognized and emerging treatment modalities for children with ASD.”
2 Comments
September 15, 2015
Amy Gustavson
ABA is different than other therapies
I have frequently found that ABA therapists make very different (and sometimes opposite) recommendations than the OT and me (SLP).
June 9, 2016
Nikia Dower
Re: U.S. Education Department Says ABA Is Not the Only ASD Treatment
Readers may also be interested in this from the Association for Science in Autism http://www.asatonline.org/media-watch/asat-responds-to-bsci21-orgs-u-s-dept-of-education-aba-not-enough-for-autism-treatment/
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September 2015
Volume 20, Issue 9