Mississippi lawmakers and Autism specialist are joining forces to increase autism treatment access across the state. MPB's Alexis Ware has the story
Members of the Mississippi Autism Board say Applied Behavioral Analysis, a therapy to correct social behavior, is the leading form of therapy for children.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is a supporter of the effort expand availability of treatment for Mississippians with autism. He says it is important for children to have access to ABA therapy.
"We need to provide every child in Mississippi the reasonable opportunity to progress and live their lives and be apart of our communities and do all the things you want any child to have the opportunity to do. To me that's more important than who scores a touch down on Friday night."
Hosemann says with an estimated 10,700 Mississippi children having autism, 33 licensed professionals isn't enough.
These therapists work largely in Jackson, Hattiesburg,Tupelo and the Coast, leaving thousands of Mississippians without access to licensed therapists.
Nicole Boyd has a child with autism who receives ABA therapy. She says access to therapy will help more children become working adults.
"Prevention costs a lot less than having these children not get these basic skills that they need and it will save huge amounts of dollars in the long term if we'll go ahead and get these children therapy in the beginning, because the cost it's going to be to Mississippi taxpayers to have these non-working adults is going to be enormous."
Hosemann says the Department of Education will soon be adding ABA programs to schools across the state following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that schools must offer a higher standard of education for students with disabilities.