Addressing barriers to behavioral health care services in California
October 19, 2020
Along with several other organizations, Autism Speaks has expressed concern to the California Department of Health Care Services that some autistic students and their families are being denied medically necessary behavioral health services during online “virtual” school sessions accessed in the child’s home. These services are necessary for many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in these and other community settings, to correct or ameliorate challenging behaviors, improve social communication deficits and generalize skills across environments.
During the COVID-19 emergency, many schools are not providing any in-person services and are limiting educational instruction to purely online sessions. Such medically necessary behavioral health treatments are not directed at academics and are not duplicative of online educational sessions. Eligibility for behavioral health services during online “virtual” school sessions should be based on individualized determinations of medical necessity.
Staff of the California Department of Health Care Services quickly acknowledged receipt of detailed information about this concern and has pledged to work with the appropriate internal teams to address it. Autism Speaks will share additional information as it becomes available.