Connecticut lawmakers and autism advocates have recently proposed a new bill to lawfully punish individuals who pose as board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) in order to provide services to children with autism. Senate Bill 799 would make BCBA impersonation a criminal offence in Connecticut punishable by up to 5 years in prison with a fine of up to $500 per offense; in which case, each client contract would be regarded as a separate offense.
State lawmakers and autism advocates are proposing measures to protect autistic children from people such as Stacy Lore, the woman convicted of misrepresenting herself as an autism therapist.
On Monday, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, including Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk; Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven; and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, announced legislation that would crack down on people who falsify credentials to treat children with autism. They were joined by parents and autism advocacy groups.
The proposed bill would make it illegal to falsely claim certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, a Florida-based national nonprofit corporation that certifies the qualifications of professionals who have been trained and passed exams in behavior analysis and treatment for autism spectrum disorders.
Lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that would require anyone teaching Applied Behavioral Analysis to children with autism, be licensed and certified or face criminal charges. Applied Behavioral Analysis interventions are best known for treating people with developmental disabilities most notably autism by using positive reinforcement. This bill struck a chord with parents and advocates who use this method of teaching who spoke out in opposition.
Original language indicates, anyone teaching ABA must be certified, or they could face a misdemeanor charge. Assemblyman James Ohrenschall of Las Vegas, says they do not want to make it harder for kids to get the treatment that has proven so helpful. He thinks the bill needs more work. "We're trying to get the psychology board together with the parents and providers and make sure the final version of this bill will not limit the applied behavior analysis therapist in the state."
The Commerce and Labor Committee requested the bill be worked on and the language be changed before they look at it again in the upcoming weeks. News 4 will continue to follow its progress.