For Immediate Release

‘ABA in PA’ Group Meets to Address Services for Children with Autism

HERSHEY, June 6, 2017 – A local group of parents and industry professionals is meeting in Hershey to strategize about ways to ensure that children with autism receive better access to quality Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.

The third annual meeting of the ABA in PA Initiative will take place on Thursday, June 8, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s University Conference Center, 500 University Drive in Hershey.

“It’s more important than ever that we focus our efforts on promoting advocacy for individuals with special needs, given the uncertainty of the level of investments for autism services on the state level, along with the uncertain fate of health coverage on the national level,” said Dr. Cheryl Tierney, MD, MPH, a board-Certified behavior and developmental pediatrician at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and president of the ABA in PA Initiative. “This annual meeting serves as a critical opportunity for professionals, parents and advocates to come together to explore the best ways to ensure that individuals with autism are receiving the services they need an deserve, including ABA therapy.”

Members of the media are welcome to cover the meeting, and parents and professionals are available for interview. 


The ABA in PA Initiative is an advocacy organization dedicated to change the future for all children in Pennsylvania with Autism Spectrum Disorder by ensuring access to ABA therapy via Medical Assistance.

The ABA in PA Initiative aims to bring the autism community together as one united voice to urge Pennsylvania and private sector to listen to our concerns and take immediate action to address the service gap for ABA.

One in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Applied Behavior Analysis is a systematic and intensive teaching approach that involves breaking skills down into small, easy-to-learn steps. It is widely recognized as the single most effective treatment for children with autism and the only treatment shown to lead to significant, lasting improvements in the lives of individuals with autism.

Studies have shown that children with autism who participated in intensive ABA programs showed significant improvements in IQ, language skills, and academic performance. Some children in these studies were able to move successfully to mainstream public school classes, where they can learn alongside typically developing peers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Surgeon General endorse ABA therapy.

However, according to ABA in PA members, Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance (MA) program does not cover ABA therapy in a manner that is consistent with the medically accepted standard of care, or in an amount, duration and scope sufficient to reasonably achieve its purpose of improving the lives of children with autism.

While Pennsylvania provides services to many children with autism, these services are not designed to treat developmental or neurological disorders, such as autism. The services provided today are designed to treat the behavioral “symptoms” of autism.  

ABA in PA participants say ABA therapy must be recognized in Pennsylvania as distinct service offering to children with autism. However, unlike other states, Pennsylvania has refused to recognize ABA therapy as distinct service under the state’s MA program. 

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