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Friday, January 12, 2024

Waiting in Michigan

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.  One is a shortage of qualified professionals.

Andrea M. Stephens and colleagues have an article at Behavior Analysis in Practice titled
Delays to Behavioral Therapy in Michigan for Children Diagnosed with Autism: A Summary of Needs Assessment Outcomes to Inform Public Policy Advocacy Initiatives

Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are eligible to receive behavioral health services in Michigan, including those based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Demand for these specific services far outpaces the number of qualified professionals in the state (Yingling et al., 2022), thus resulting in delayed access to a much-needed service. The purpose of our survey was twofold. First, we surveyed families throughout Michigan (N = 78) to identify the types of barriers encountered and the extent to which families of autistic individuals experience them when pursuing ABA services. Second, our survey assessed the needs of these families during service delays in an attempt to understand how to best support them during this time. Results indicated that 73% of children spent time on a waitlist, varying in duration from 1 month to over 1 year. Further, most caregivers indicated they were concerned about their children’s behavior while awaiting services and would have been interested in training to help them manage behavioral concerns and teach new skills to their children. We conclude by reviewing recommendations for addressing child and caregiver needs during this time and discussing implications for public policy advocacy initiatives.