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Shortage of Applied Behavior Analysts Found for Children With Autism

Supply of ABA providers falls short of benchmark for 49 states and Washington, D.C.

autistic boy

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The supply of applied behavior analysis (ABA) providers for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) falls short of the benchmark in 49 states and Washington, D.C., according to a study published online Dec. 11 in Psychiatric Services.

Yidan Xue Zhang, and Janet R. Cummings, Ph.D., from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, used 2018 data from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board to compare the per-capita supply of certified ABA providers in each state with a benchmark established based on guidelines from the board. In addition, the authors examined state and regional variations in the supply of certified ABA providers.

The researchers found that assuming all children with ASD require only focused treatment, the supply of certified ABA providers fell short of the benchmark in 49 states and Washington, D.C. The only state in which supply exceeded the benchmark was Massachusetts, which had the highest per-capita supply of certified ABA providers (8.8 per 100 children with ASD). The number of ABA providers was significantly higher per capita in the Northeast than any other region. Significantly more certified ABA providers per capita were seen in states with public education spending in the highest quartile versus states in the lower quartiles.

"Given the increasing prevalence of ASD among youths, new workforce policies may be needed to improve the supply of ABA providers in the United States to meet the needs of this population," the authors write.

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