Monday, June 22, 2009

Characterizing ABA Treatment for Autism as Experimental is Arbitrary and Capricious

Anti-ABA activists at the Universite de Montreal and elsewhere in Canada and the US will probably be upset over the news that Blue Cross has settled a lawsuit brought in Michigan reimbursing parents of autistic children for the costs they paid out for ABA treatment for their autistic children.

As indicated by Jon Hood on the Autism News, Blue Cross had initially defended the suit on the basis that ABA was experimental and therefore not required to be provided under their health insurance policies. Lawyers for the parent plaintiffs in the case "argued that characterizing ABA as experimental was arbitrary, capricious, and possibly even illegal."

Some choice remarks from the article at the Autism News:

"Blue Cross acknowledged in a 2005 draft policy that ABA is anything but controversial. That draft explicitly noted that ABA is “currently the most thoroughly researched treatment modality for early intervention approaches to autism spectrum disorders and is the standard of care recommended by” a number of professional organizations, including the Association for Science in Autism Treatment.

Additionally, as the draft pointed out, the earlier the treatment is applied, the better the child’s prognosis for a normal and productive life.

During a court deposition, Dr. Calmaze Dudley, Blue Cross’s medical director, said that he would “probably” employ the therapy if he had a child with autism.

Fortunately for Canadian autistic children the same American studies and reviewing agencies referred to in the Autism News report have provided the foundation for much of the successful parental advocacy for ABA coverage that has occurred in some Canadian provinces.

Unfortunately the Canadian government still refuses to get involved in helping autistic children across Canada. While the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have no qualms about funding the recent study proving that high functioning autistics are up to 40 percent faster at Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) problem-solving than non-autistics it doesn't spend a single dime to ensure that autistic children in Canada receive the ABA treatment that even American commercial health insurance providers acknowledge is the the most thoroughly researched treatment modality for early intervention approaches to autism spectrum disorders.

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