The State Senate passed SB 135 with overwhelming bipartisan support today, granting much needed relief for autistic children and their families.
Senator Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, authored the legislation and applauded the efforts of his colleagues.
“In order for us to positively affect autism families in our state, working on this legislation really had to be a team effort,” said Justice. Senate Bill 135 provides for the enactment of a licensing process for national Board Certified Behavioral Analysts and enhancement of existing state programs that would train doctors to diagnose and treat autism.
Studies have determined that a shortage of trained providers has made it difficult for families to obtain autism services, even when they have financial assistance. A recent state pilot program provided families over $12,000 a year to obtain autism-related services, yet much of the funds went unused due to the lack of trained Autism professionals in the state.
SB 135 will increase the number of trained specialists to treat autism spectrum disorders while allowing the open market to adjust coverage based on the demand of services.
“With the passage of SB 135, we can provide a trained and accessible provider network in Oklahoma that will aid the families who are dealing with the growing challenge of autistic children,” Justice added. “Our hope is that this legislation will be a very positive and compassionate step toward meeting their needs.”
Senate Bill 135 includes the following provisions:
Establish a state license for national Board Certified Behavioral Analysts and create a professional standard for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).
Increase training for the evaluation and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
Enhance Sooner Start by providing professional training for the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders. Sooner Start is an early intervention and treatment program for children with disabilities and developmental delays age birth to three.
Provide intensive early intervention for more children by replicating Early Foundations. Early Foundations is an autism treatment and outreach model that offers behavioral intervention through trained providers.