Due to action taken by the Texas Legislature during the 84th Legislative Session, more people with autism in Texas may have access to the full array of services and supports necessary to meet their individual needs.
State-Funded Autism Services
Services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) received significant attention during the 84th legislative session. The appropriations allocated during the legislative session were related specifically to applied behavior analysis (ABA) and training.
Applied Behavior Analysis
$14.4 million was allocated to the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to:
- phase out Comprehensive ABA for children enrolled by August 15, 2015;
- expand access to Focused ABA; and
- provide services to 1,970 children (295 children received services in 2014).
$8.1 million was allocated to the Higher Education Coordinating Board to purchase trainings for shareholders to reach more children with ASD through the indirect service provision. The funds will be used for:
- $4.5 million for parent-directed treatment training;
- $1.9 million for board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) training for teachers and paraprofessionals;
- $1.4 million for research, development, and evaluation of innovative treatment models; and
- $300,000 administrative support.
Board-Certified Behavior Analysts
During the legislative session, a bill to license BCBAs in Texas failed to pass. Although BCBAs have national certification, state licensure is necessary in order to bill Medicaid for work done by people they supervise. People in favor of licensure state that it will increase the number of BCBAs in Texas (currently about 900) and also that it will prevent unqualified persons from representing themselves as experts in behavior analysis. Opponents of the bill were concerned that qualification for licensure did not require the same level of training and experience as similar professions.