Pennsylvania's Doctors Take Charge of Autism Treatment Standards

Pennsylvania has taken a very important step toward professionalizing the field of autism treatment. The Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine is now granting behavioral specialist licenses to professionals who treat children with autism spectrum disorder. This is a huge development because finally children with autism, a neurological condition, will be treated by professionals who will be under the auspices of a medical board instead of subordinated to special education systems that do not have the organizational culture of excellence in autism treatment in particular, and do not understand the value and importance of data in measuring progress. In short, the educational model of specialized teaching has an abysmal track record when it comes to autism treatment. This makes sense because autism is not a “learning disorder.” The special education system will hopefully now cooperate with the medical system in the same way that education is required to cooperate with a medical supervisor when a physically disabled child has any other medical condition.

What’s particularly promising about the new Pennsylvania requirement is that every autism treatment practitioner, including behavior specialists, needs to complete a
utism-specific training. Parents of children with autism and many Board Certified Behavior Analysts who work with children on the autism spectrum have been asking for specialist standards and licensing for behavior specialists working with children with autism. Being a specialist in Applied Behavior Analysis is not sufficient when it comes to treatment for children afflicted with autism. That next step, a recognized specialty for autism treatment that ABA professionals must meet, is what makes the Pennsylvania initiative so important.

The overall effect of this change in the status quo is that requirements demanded of professionals who work with children on the Autism spectrum are going to become more rigorous over time. This means that all the kooks and quacks will no longer find the field of autism to be as warm and cozy a corner of the disability world in which to park their incompetent caboose!

Now that Pennsylvania has raised the bar, hopefully other jurisdictions will follow suit. Our children deserve no less!