Autism: Local family wins fight to force state to provide ABA therapy

CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio - A Clermont County family and families all across Ohio with autistic children are savoring a victory.

That's because the federal government is requiring the state to provide therapy that the state had refused.

The battle surrounds applied behavior analysis, known as ABA therapy.

According to Autism Speaks, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.

The U.S. Department of Education says it will require Ohio to provide this treatment and will be watching to make sure that it does.

Roman Young, a 3½-year-old with autism, doesn't know it but he's at the center of a landmark decision. Before his parents sued the state, Ohio didn't offer much in terms of therapy for kids like Roman.

"At the time it was two hours of speech a month and that's what Ohio offered us," Holly Young said.

She felt that wasn't enough and decided to read all she could.

“I was doing a lot research on my own. I learned about ABA on my own. I brought that up to them and they said absolutely not, we don't do this."

On Friday, Jennifer McDaniel of Trumpet Behavioral Health was using ABA therapy for Roman's therapy. The two sat at a table and McDaniel placed a plastic cup and two other items in front of him.

“Where's the cup? You got the cup! Good job! Show me the cup. Way to go Roman!"

As McDaniel worked with Roman, Holly Young read a portion of the letter from the Department of Education to the state.

"’The state will make available, if identified as needed by the IFSP team, early intervention services referred to as ABA therapy.’ That line gets me," she said.

But now that Roman is past 3 he no longer qualifies for the state help his parents fought to get him.

"We've already lost that window,” his mother said. “We had two things we wanted to accomplish when we started out on this journey - one was to get help for Roman, obviously utmost important; the second was to get help for all of the children behind us in that zero to 3 age group so that they don't have to go through what we're going through.

“You shouldn't have to fight, claw, scratch your way to get your child what your child needs," Young said

Ohio's Department of Health declined to comment for this story citing the pending litigation.

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