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Health

NC Families Struggle To Access Treatment For Children With Autism

photo of two adults with autism working with two therapists
Courtesy of Autism Society of NC
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One in 57 8-year-old children in North Carolina is diagnosed with autism, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But new reporting from North Carolina Health News and EdNC shows many families around the state are struggling to access specialized treatments that could transform how their children with autism behave.

Some of the most effective therapies fall under the category of Applied Behavior Analysis, which can be both time-consuming and costly. In 2015 the North Carolina General Assembly passed a mandate requiring health insurance companies to cover the interventions, but many families are still falling through the cracks.

I was told that [ABA therapy] not only could help with things like potty training [...] but could also [...] help her learn how to talk. Yet I was told when I started checking into it [...] it would be years before she would probably get the services. - Donna Dworak, grandmother of a kid with autism

photo of adison cole in her bedroom
Credit Courtesy of Donna Dworak
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Adison Cole is an 11 year old in Moore County with autism. Her grandmother has been struggling for years to access specialized treatment for her.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Sarah Ovaska-Few, a journalist who investigated North Carolina families’ struggles to access ABA therapies. Donna Dworak joins the conversation to share her unsuccessful attempts to enroll her 11-year-old granddaughter Adison in specialized therapies through Medicaid. And autism expert Kara Hume talks about the research behind various autism treatments. Hume is the director of the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

 

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