Autism Speaks applauds Department of Veterans Affairs for including vital autism care in insurance coverage for families of disabled veterans

Decision follows advocacy efforts by Autism Speaks and other autism groups

December 4, 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs has informed beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) that, as of December 1, applied behavior analysis (ABA), an evidence-based treatment for autism spectrum disorder, will be allowed as a covered health benefit.  

“We are so proud that after conversations with congressional staff and meaningful engagement with the Department of Veterans Affairs, we can celebrate today that children with autism covered by CHAMPVA will have access to the support they need,” said Stuart Spielman, Autism Speaks senior vice president of advocacy. “All Americans and members of the autism community deserve this access, and especially those who have given so much for their country.” 

A key tenet of the mission of Autism Speaks is ensuring that individuals and families – across the spectrum and throughout the life span – have access to reliable information, services and support. Services like ABA can be critical in supporting people on the spectrum to achieve the best possible outcomes. The addition of ABA coverage to CHAMPVA benefits means that individuals and families affected by autism will have access to care that was previously not covered under this program, a health plan specifically for the spouses and dependents of disabled veterans. 

Among those impacted is Shaina Purser, whose 7-year-old daughter is on the spectrum.  

“All parents want the best for their children and recognize their impact on their children's lives. Understanding that you can make a difference in your child’s development but knowing that you lack the resources necessary to help them is heartbreaking,” Purser shared. “Being able to access ABA services for my daughter is a huge relief. I feel like I finally have the tools I need to do my job as a parent in helping my child thrive, not just survive.” 

“This change is happening because of the persistent advocacy of parents like Shaina Purser, who have been tireless in their pursuit of improving coverage for not just their own families, but for all beneficiaries with autism that have CHAMPVA coverage. We were proud to be a part of this effort and will work to ensure that with this policy change, families will be able to access services,” Spielman added.  

Autism Speaks celebrates this action as a meaningful step toward achieving the organization’s vision of a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential, particularly for veterans of the U.S. armed services who are permanently disabled and their families. Individuals or families in need of information, resources or support are invited to contact the Autism Response Team (ART) at 888-AUTISM2 or For more information on CHAMPVA coverage, you can call 1-800-733-8387.