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A new study has found that there is substantial variation across states and regions. For instance, the per capita supply of certified applied behaviour analysis (ABA providers) is substantially higher in the Northeast than in any other region in the USA. The study was published in the journal Psychiatric Services.
The rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) underscores the importance of access to evidence-based interventions such as ABA. An estimated one in 59 children had ASD in 2014, up from one in 125 a decade earlier, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
ABA uses behavioural learning principles to help children with ASD increase positive behaviours and social interactions and decrease problematic behaviours. It is the recommended treatment for children with autism and is supported by more than 30 years of research. ABA is most effective when it is started at early childhood and the therapy is provided between 20 and 40 hours per week.
Study authors Yidan Xue Zhang, MC, and Janet R Cummings, PhD, with the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, compared the per capita supply of certified ABA providers in each state with a benchmark established using the board's guidelines. They found that the per capita supply of certified ABA providers fell below the benchmark in 49 states. The supply was highest in the Northeast, which included the top seven states in the US based on per capita ABA providers.
In the Midwest, however, no state had more than one-third of the minimum number of ABA providers needed for the number of children with autism.