Here is some really good news. Federal Court Strikes Down Blue Cross of Michigan’s Denial of Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy to Children with Autism.

Finally, I can sleep better at night knowing that the federal court has stepped up to the plate and called a spade a spade: “The court, noting that (Applied Behavioral Analysis) ABA therapy is supported by numerous authorities, and is not supported by Blue Cross’ own medical policy, held that Blue Cross’ denial of insurance coverage for this therapy on the ground that the therapy is experimental was arbitrary and capricious under federal law.”

Insurance companies have for too long held families captive by withholding from their children the assistance of a therapy that has decades of documented and proven results, and has been replicated around the world. It works. Because they have refused to pay for ABA therapy, children who might progress to normal or have improved symptoms are left bereft of the life and abilities that could be their own. They are left without the hope of a normal life. As a result, the cost to care for them once they become adults is astronomical and becomes the taxpayers’ responsibility. The annual cost to society of autism is $137 billion. The Autism Society cites estimates of $3.2 million for the lifetime costs of such care. Caring for an adult with autism in a supported residential setting can cost $50,000 to $100,000 per year.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way, and with 40 years of proven results, ABA offers hope and help to children from all walks of life. This video shows just a few instances of how ABA affected a handful of children in Minnesota. It must be made more widely available. Finally, with the backing of the federal court, we may see strides being made in serving the nearly one in 50 children who are now being diagnosed with autism.

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A National Institute for Mental Health press release issued January 15 proclaimed, Study Documents that Some Children Lose Autism Diagnosis. This study, conducted by autism researcher Deborah Fein, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Connecticut, was funded by the National Institutes of Health. It focused on 34 individuals who had been diagnosed with autism at a young age, but moved off the autism spectrum, as they grew older.

“Although the diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time, the findings suggest that there is a very wide range of possible outcomes,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “For an individual child, the outcome may be knowable only with time and after some years of intervention. Subsequent reports from this study should tell us more about the nature of autism and the role of therapy and other factors in the long term outcome for these children.”

But, in reading the article, I thought to myself “Am I reading this correctly? It suggests that we finally have scientific data to support that children actually do lose their diagnoses, and then goes on to say that “we really don’t know how to do that,” but we should figure it out?

We’ve had data for some time, and a proven method, which shows that children can indeed lose their diagnosis of autism.  In 1987, Ivaar Lovass, PhD, showed through Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) that children could recover from autism. Lovass Institute Midwest, in Minneapolis, directed by Eric Larsson, PhD, LP, BCBA, has documented recovery levels of 60 percent for children treated. Impressive and amazing. Yet the scientific community continues in this ongoing and pointless battle of whether ABA is valid. If a cancer treatment had similar data, it would have been implemented across the board decades ago. Recovery means normal social skills and normal IQ. Most of us would give our right arm to have that for our children (even if some symptoms remain), and half of them can achieve those outcomes if provided with the appropriate early intervention. It is what the world needs now, and has needed for years.

In an editorial by Sally Ozonoff, joint editor of Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, said, “Moving the possibility for recovery from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) beyond public discourse and into scientific discourse is critical. No, recovery won’t be possible for everyone. No, recovery is not the only outcome worth fighting for. But it is high time we, as a scientific field, talked seriously about this as a possibility. As recent political events have demonstrated, hope can be a powerful tool. By demonstrating that there is solid science behind hope, we can add fuel to the urgency for very early diagnosis and intensive treatment of ASD.”

Then, I ran across this blog by “There is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope.” on Autism Speaks. I believe the author is spot on with her comments and I have to wonder why are we still dancing around the word recovery? Why not just implement a method that includes early intervention and has such a terrific track record?