As the Holcomb administration reviews the reimbursement rate for ABA therapy, anxiety is running high among parents and providers. This week, the Indiana ACT for Families coalition highlights Jennifer Terrell, a grandmother from Darlington, Indiana, who has a 3-year-old granddaughter with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Jennifer’s granddaughter first showed signs of ASD at around 18-months-old. At the time, her granddaughter was nonverbal, so upon recommendation from their pediatrician, Jennifer sought out speech therapy. “Her speech therapist was wonderful, but my granddaughter just wasn’t showing progress,” said Jennifer. Upon further consultation, “we were encouraged to take her to get an evaluation for autism.”
Since starting ABA therapy at Piece by Piece, her granddaughter has already shown incredible progress. “She is nonverbal and our goal going into ABA therapy was to help her learn any form of communication,” said Jennifer. “Now, she has learned to point and shake her head no and it’s been an excellent experience overall. It may sound like a small step to some, but you can’t imagine the difference it’s made to all of our lives.”
A Tremendous Impact
Jennifer and her family have witnessed first-hand the effectiveness of ABA therapy, and they credit this therapy with helping their little girl find her voice. “She is really showing great progress in the last year that she has attended ABA therapy,” said Jennifer. “Just the other day she was leading me into the kitchen for a snack, shaking her head no until I was holding the one she wanted.”
Her granddaughter’s therapists have also had a massive impact. “They are truly family, and my granddaughter is just so excited to go to ABA every day because of them,” said Jennifer. “She gets her coat on in the morning and she is ready to go because she loves that interaction with them.”
“It Hurts My Heart”
Jennifer and her family rely on Medicaid to pay for her autism care and the reimbursement rates for ABA therapy are now being reviewed by the Holcomb administration. There’s a growing understanding that cuts are coming. Jennifer fears this could lead to unintended consequences that are not fully understood by state officials.
“If we had to pay out-of-pocket for ABA therapy, my son and I would have to work two or three jobs each, just to find a way to keep my granddaughter in ABA,” said Jennifer. “If our center suddenly closed, I truly don’t know what we would do.”
After waiting on an extensive waitlist for her granddaughter to receive care, Jennifer says it would “hurt my heart” if funding cuts are made and waitlists for children looking to receive care grew even longer as a result. “So many kiddos would be impacted since many are still on the waiting list to even get into a center,” said Jennifer. “The state can’t even get these facilities up and running fast enough, yet alone if they decide to cut Medicaid funding.”