Early Intervention: Timing Matters
There is not a cure for autism, but treatment can help people with autism learn to communicate, connect with the world around them, and become more self-sufficient. The earlier a child begins treatment, the better their chance of overcoming the symptoms of autism.
There are several steps to getting an autism diagnosis. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians screen for autism 9, 18 and 24 or 30 month checkups. If a pediatrician sees signs of autism he or she will refer the child for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation by a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist, child psychiatrist or child psychologist.
In San Antonio, there are a limited number of specialists who can make an autism diagnosis and wait lists range from 5 months to 1 year. For a list of practitioners and nonprofits that can provide an autism diagnosis, visit the Local Resources section on our Resources page.
Early diagnosis begins at home!
Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to early diagnosis of autism. Talk to your child's doctor if you have any concerns. For information on what to look for between the ages of 2 months and 5 years, download the Learn the Signs. Act Early booklet below.
Barriers to Getting Treatment
Typical ABA therapy is provided in one-on-one sessions with a BCBA at a cost of $75-$100 per hour. A model funded by the Texas Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services (DARS) has been proven effective using a BCBA to train and supervise non-certified therapists who provide intensive one-on-one therapy to children ages 3-15. This model is more cost effective that traditional ABA, but funding is limited and only a small number of children are served by this program in San Antonio each year.
While ABA therapy is recommended as soon as a child receives a diagnosis
of autism, it is very difficult
to get in our community. Medicaid does not cover ABA services in Texas, so the most vulnerable children do not have access to this life-changing therapy.
Some insurance companies cover ABA therapy, but many do not. There are now options for parents of children with autism to get ABA and other therapies covered through the Affordable Care Act. Learn more at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
The Autism Treatment Center in San Antonio is
one of eight organizations in Texas contracted by DARS
to provide intensive ABA therapy for children ages 3-15. While we have successfully served more than 50 children in this program since 2012, there are almost 400 on our waiting list who desperately need our help.