Study: U.S. has Insufficient Supply of ABA Providers to Meet Needs of Children With Autism

December 23, 2019

Researchers at the Rollins School of Public Health recently published an article in Psychiatric Services that found there is an insufficient supply of applied behavior analysis (ABA) providers in nearly all states to meet the needs of children with autism. Yidan Zhang, a PhD student in the Department of Health Policy and Management, was first author. Janet Cummings, PhD, was senior author of the paper.

The researchers used 2018 national data from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board to examine the per capita supply of certified ABA providers in each state compared to a benchmark established using the board’s guidelines on provider caseload. They also examined regional and state variation in the supply of these providers.

In addition to the shortage of ABA providers nationwide, the researchers found that the supply of these providers is much higher in the Northeast than in the South, West, and Midwest.

Recently updated clinical guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasize the importance of early screening and identification of autism spectrum disorders. “Workforce policies are needed to increase the supply of ABA providers if we want to increase access to these services,” says Cummings. “If there are not enough ABA providers in a community, then efforts to improve early screening and identification will not necessarily lead to an increase in the receipt of ABA among youth in need of these services.”

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