June 13, 2012

Insurance for Adults with Autism

Dear Colleagues, Parents and Caregivers:

Adults on the autism spectrum in California without deep pockets can now have access to adequate behavioral services, to help them achieve independence and fulfillment in their lives. At Vista, we believe that adults with ASD want to, and are entitled to, lead independent and fulfilling lives. Thanks to our elected California state leaders and the insurance companies who worked together to enact SB 946, that belief can now become a reality for numerous adults with ASD.

On July 1st, the mandate that requires all health insurance plans in California to cover assessment and treatment of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will go into effect. Because this law allows for treatment of people with ASD of all ages, adults with ASD can finally get the treatment that they need. Even better, the law provides for the use of training procedures that are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is the only scientifically-proven set of procedures that has been shown to be effective for people with ASD.

Regional centers and school districts in California have funded intensive ABA services for children and adolescents with ASD. As a result of quality services provided by ABA agencies through contracts with regional centers and school districts, many children with ASD in California have made remarkable gains, in communication, socialization, and in the elimination of challenging behaviors.

Many of these children are now becoming adolescents and adults, but there are very few comparable services that are available to them. School district services terminate when the individual finishes high school or attains the age of 22, and there are not sufficient services funded by regional centers to adequately address the fluctuating needs of adults with ASD.

We recognize that independence is relative. The level of independence that can be attained by adults with ASD is related to the current functioning level of that individual. That is why we work with the goal of maximizing each client’s distinct potential for leading an independent life.

Vista has spent much of the last year researching and understanding the unique needs of adults with ASD. As a result, we have developed a customizable treatment program specifically for adults that is based on three clusters of skills, or modules, that we feel are absolutely critical to the process of attaining independence: Living Skills, Social Integration Skills and Vocational Skills.

  •   Living Skills are the skills that are needed to live independently with minimal assistance. They include purchasing food and toiletries, preparing meals, managing a budget, paying bills including rent, and making self-advocacy choices.
  •   Social Integration Skills are the necessary skills to prepare clients to participate and navigate in their communities, so they can participate in a variety of social and recreational activities. They include initiating and maintaining personal relationships, expressing and regulating emotions, and following social etiquette customs.
  •   Vocational Skills are the skills that are needed for obtaining and maintaining employment. They include developing a resume, answering interview questions and interacting with recruiters, and managing job stress.

    Vista is working very closely with insurance companies in California to assure that these necessary services will be available for adults with ASD. We feel very hopeful that with treatment in these skill areas adults with ASD will be able to function more independently and lead more satisfying lives.

    Warmest regards,

    H. Keith Massel, Ph.D., BCBA-D
    President, Vista Center for Behavior Analysis kmassel@vistacba.com
    (818) 646-6650