If you find your child has autism, there are many potential therapies that you can pursue. However, the gold standard in autism therapy is ABA—Applied Behavioral Analysis. ABA has been around for years, and it sometimes gets a bad rap because it changes behaviors based on a reward system. I won’t get into the debate about ABA in this post (that will be in another post), but I do want to share what our ABA intake process was like.
For our child who was diagnosed with autism first, 2.5 years ago, we pursued a variety of therapies and found very little success. Out of desperation, as a last resort, I decided to pursue ABA therapy. I called our insurance expecting to find that it wasn’t covered, but to my surprise, it was. The insurance company sent me a list of providers, and in the end, we decided to go with a company that is in 32 states. We figured if we ever move out of Arizona, transitioning services would be easier than going with individual providers.
I’ll be honest, the intake process was filled with frustrations for me, probably in part because I’m impatient, and once I decided on ABA, I wanted the therapy to begin NOW.
The First Step
To start the process, I filled out an application online. The application was fairly straightforward, but I had to upload many documents including psychiatrists’ reports, the diagnosis report, a prescription for ABA, my insurance card, etc.
After I finished the application, I received a call from the corporate office within a week saying they would call my insurance, and that process could take up to three weeks to verify funding.
The Questions. . .Oh So Many Questions
While I waited for insurance verification, the corporate office asked me to fill out some questions online. The first set of questions consisted of about 300 questions.
The second set of questions? That consisted of 3,000 questions!!!!
I’m not joking when I tell you filling out that many questions literally took me 8 to 10 hours or more done over about a two week period. The questions were so tedious—asking me about the most minute skills my child may or may not have—that I found I couldn’t focus on the questions for much longer than 30 minutes at a time.
However, I discovered some interesting things. I never noticed that my child doesn’t use hand gestures and can’t read an analog clock until these questions made me think, truly think, about the child’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Intake Appointment
About three weeks later, after insurance had approved an intake appointment, we had our appointment at the center. The appointment was three hours long, and my child had to come with me.
We were asked what top three things we want to work on regarding the child’s behavior, and we were also asked to describe the most troubling behaviors. Then, just when I thought all of the questionnaires were done, I got a thick pack of questionnaires to fill out, including the Vineland, a questionnaire about how I felt about parenting my child, and another questionnaire I can’t remember. During the three hour appointment, I worked on these for about 1.5 hours and still had to take some of them home to finish.
The Last Step
During the intake, I was told how many hours of therapy they were going to ask our insurance for. (In our case, it was 25 hours of ABA a week.) Of course, this process took another three weeks. In the end, the insurance approved that number of hours, and my child started ABA about six weeks after I initiated the process.
Although the intake process felt long to me, it did move fairly quickly. I have heard of some people waiting months, or even a year, to get the initial interview for ABA therapy, so I’m grateful we were able to start so quickly.