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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WV Psychologist Board Backs Down

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that a West Virginia board has reversed a rule that would have taken away ABA services:

The state Board of Examiners of Psychologists voted to withdraw a controversial legislative rule change from earlier this year, citing a "misunderstanding."

The emergency rule change, approved by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in June, required state behavior analysts to work under the supervision of licensed psychologists at all times.

Behavior analysts work with patients with emotional and mental problems, but many work with autistic children. They provide intense therapy that often helps the child overcome some of the disorder's effects.

"Behavior analysts have misinterpreted the rule to mean that it would hamper autistic children from receiving services. Apparently, they are telling parents that their autistic children will not receive services," wrote Jeffrey Harlow, executive director of the psychologists examiners board, in a press release Tuesday evening.

According to the release, parents of autistic children have called the board to express "fear and anger."

"This is a misunderstanding. The rule does not prevent services from being rendered. The last thing the board would want to do is obstruct the provision of vitally needed services to these vulnerable children," he wrote.

"The board continues to offer to meet with behavioral analysts to see if together we can resolve this issue."

He did not specify when the vote to withdraw the rule took place. Calls to Harlow's office were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Jill Scarbro-McLaury, a certified behavior analyst and president of Charleston's Autism Speaks chapter, filed a lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court last Friday against the West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

"There was no misunderstanding here," she said. "The Psychologists' Board of Examiners broke the law.

"The lawsuit was never about psychology and behavior analysis. The lawsuit was purely about did they follow the law? The case was clear. They did not."