Everyone wants to think that the hardest hit individuals since the spread of COVID-19 are those that are directly affected by it. While that is certainly true, what is not being discussed are those who are equally impacted by the pandemic, and what these individuals have lost. More specifically, what isn't being discussed and should be loudly discussed everywhere is the impact this has had on kids with autism spectrum disorders. Families that relied on the public school systems to give them some relief from challenging behaviors during the day and provide a structured day/routine to their children with ASD are suddenly thrust into the full workload of parent, teacher, and nurse/therapist. The stress load alone is taking a heavy mental and emotional toll on families, since parents cannot provide a minute-to-minute daily structure for these kids. Worse still are the issues parents are having with the new methods of providing ABA therapy to kids.
The Major Issues With Telehealth ABA
The ABA therapy, like most things, moved to telehealth during the beginning of the pandemic. While this may work for some kids on the spectrum, it doesn't work for all of them. The really frustrating part is ABA therapy offered through DOE (Department of Education) in many states, and the telehealth ABA offered this way is subpar at best. Parents who are looking to continue in-home ABA services can't get their school districts to pay for it, but in-home services are still necessary for most children with autism. In New York and New Jersey, this is an especially frustrating issue. The DOE in these states have stopped almost all ABA services, leaving parents and their children with autism blowing in the wind with virtually no support at all. The few districts that continue support are not coming to students' homes, and that often does not work since the parents then have to be involved with carrying out the activities that the telehealth therapists are directing. For some children on the spectrum, this really doesn't work because they become confused as to why their therapist is on a screen but their parents are trying to do the activities with them.
The Alternative Solution for ABA Services
The alternative solution for ABA services in New York and New Jersey is to get services through private providers and have insurance companies pay for it. Under these circumstances, several private providers of ABA services are willing to come into your home to provide services. They come in gloved and with face shields so that your child can still see the therapist's face but everyone's health is protected. Certain insurance companies are willing to cover these services, and as the country continues to reopen from the pandemic, more insurance companies are covering in-home ABA therapy services. Check with your own insurance to see if they cover ABA therapy. Not all insurance companies do. If the insurance you currently have does not cover these services for your child there are other ways to get these services covered in the states of New York and New Jersey. It may take a little bit of time because there are waitlists with these private ABA therapy agencies, but then your child can get the therapy he/she needs.
Why Private Agency Therapists Can Physically Enter Your Home
Private agency therapists are able to enter your home because they operate within their own rules of safe operation. They are not operated by the state government like the DOE and school districts in New York and New Jersey, hence they set their own safety guidelines for providing services. Most of them follow the safety guidelines recommended by the CDC, but within reason for providing services to your child. It means that your child gets a higher level of quality therapy and care that resonates better with your child. These services are deemed "medically necessary" by the insurance providers that are willing to pay for them, which is why many private providers can come to your home rather than telehealth their visits.
One alternative insurance option is state insurance. If you are currently unemployed because of the pandemic, apply for Medicaid. Medicaid is the state insurance that covers children and families of low income households. Medicaid often covers ABA therapy for children with autism, and the state insurance is willing to cover these services when provided in-home and under the safety guidelines provided by the government. If your child is already covered by Medicaid or Title 19 insurance as a result of applying for and receiving SSI benefits, then you can look into a waiver program. A waiver program provides extensions on the coverage Medicaid already provides, allowing private ABA therapy agencies to assist you and your child with all manner of services. You will have to apply for a waiver and there is a process to go through. However, since caseworkers are working from home, they are able to process most requests for waivers faster, thereby reducing the wait time to get approved.
Who to Contact in the New York and New Jersey Area for Private ABA Services
Now that you know that there are alternative solutions to the therapy your child was receiving from the DOE in New York or New Jersey, you may be wondering who you can call. For starters, Achievement Behavior Services is one organization dedicated to providing one on one, in-home therapy services for your child with autism. Many parents like you who are lost and frustrated by the fact that their children are not receiving services right now have contacted Achievement Behavior Services to begin the process of enrolling their children in the ABA program offered by this organization. If you have trouble with your insurance company, or you don't currently have insurance because you have lost your job due to COVID-19, Achievement can help you with that by pointing you in the right direction. When everything has been filed and checked off the enrollment list, your child can begin to receive services at home. You and your child will finally have the therapy and help you need as you navigate your way through the pandemic.
Achievement Behavior Services is a boutique agency providing quality individualized applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to children on the autism spectrum. Established in 2015 ABS is licensed and trained ABA therapists implement behavioral therapy methods in the child’s environment to improve social, behavioral and adaptive skills.
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