New Hampshire’s children and adults with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders are enjoying the benefits of insurance reform (House Bill 569, better known as Connor’s Law) in the form of better access to applied behavior analysis (ABA) services, largely recognized as one of the most effective forms of treatment for autism spectrum disorders.
Autism insurance reform is playing out in states across America, and is happening in tandem with state-level legislation aimed at the regulation and licensure of applied behavior analysts. Still, as of 2016 New Hampshire has not established a state licensing authority for applied behavior analysts.
However, in its 2009 autism insurance reform law, the state did use clear language in describing the requirements ABA practitioners must meet to be eligible to bill services to insurance. Only services provided or supervised by applied behavior analysts that hold professional certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) are eligible to be covered, effectively making board certification a requirement in New Hampshire.
And they’re not alone. Many states with licensing laws in place for applied behavior analysts have adopted part or all of the BACB’s Model Act for Licensing/Regulating Behavior Analysts when setting qualifications for state licensure. The Model Act sets qualifications for licensed behavior analysts, along with licensed assistant behavior analysts and applied behavior analyst direct contact technicians.
Earning a Master’s Degree and Pursuing BCBA® Certification in New Hampshire
A master’s degree in applied behavior analysis, or in psychology or education with a focus on applied behavior analysis, serves as the minimum educational requirement for ABA practitioners. It is also the minimum requirement for BCBA® certification.
All master’s and doctoral degree programs that have earned accreditation through the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) meet BACB curriculum requirements by including a Verified Course Sequence (VCS).
The BACB may also approve a program that is not BAAB-accredited or that does not include a VCS, provided it meets course content allocation requirements and receives BACB approval when submitted for evaluation at the time of application.
ABA Program Options
In addition to traditional master’s and doctoral programs, either in behavior analysis or with a specialization or focus in behavior analysis, the BACB recognizes post-graduate certification programs and independent ABA course sequences (non-degree) for students who already hold a master’s degree and must complete the required courses to qualify for BCBA® certification.
The BACB also approves both campus-based and online ABA programs. Distance-based study allows students to complete all or some of their coursework requirements from the comfort of their home. This type of study is particularly beneficial for students who do not live near an institution with an ABA program or for busy working professionals who require flexibility from their graduate program.
Practicum and Exam Requirements
The BACB requires the completion of a supervised professional experience as part of an ABA graduate program. You may satisfy this requirement through the completion of a program-based practicum or through an independent field experience.
Many institutions offering online ABA programs coordinate nearby practicums for their students.
Just a few of the ABA providers in New Hampshire where you may be able to complete the required practicum/field experience include:
- Becket Family of Services, Plymouth
- Birchtree Center, Newington
- Community Partners, Dover
- Constellation Behavioral Services, Portsmouth
- Crotched Mountain Foundation, Greenfield
- Gateways Therapy Services, Nashua
- Learn with Me, Londonberry
- Seacoast Learning Collaborative, Brentwood
BCBA® certification also requires taking and passing a national examination. You can learn more about practicum and examination requirements for BCBA® certification here.
Autism Insurance Reform Increases Access to ABA Services for New Hampshire’s Children
July 2010 was a significant period for New Hampshire’s children and adults with autism and their families. It was then that New Hampshire became the 22nd state to enact autism insurance reform legislation.
Governor John Lynch enacted House Bill 569—known as Connor’s Law—to require health insurance companies to provide evidence-based, medically necessary autism treatments, including ABA therapy. To be eligible for coverage, the ABA therapy must either be provided by a BCBA® or by someone working under the supervision of a BCBA®.
The bill includes a $36,000 annual cap on ABA services for children with autism spectrum disorders from birth to the age of 2, and $27,000 for children 13 to 21.
Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services, called Connor’s Law “a great day for thousands of New Hampshire families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies.”
ABA Therapy Providers Meet the Needs of New Hampshire’s Growing Number of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
In 2000, just 1.32 percent of children (ages 3-21) who received special education services in New Hampshire had autism. By 2013-14, this rate jumped to 8.34 percent. Increasing numbers of autism diagnoses, along with better access to ABA services, have resulted in a growing number of ABA therapy providers, such as:
Autism Bridges, Bedford
Autism Bridges is a private clinic specializing in ABA therapy for children with autism. Their ABA services provide individualized ABA therapy services that address behavior management and skill acquisition. The ABA providers develop and implement a positive behavior support plan to help teach children functional communication. In addition to therapy services, Autism Bridges offers the following services:
- Educational and behavioral assessment
- Age-appropriate curriculum
- Progress reporting
- Parent training
Constellation Behavioral Services, Portsmouth
Constellation Behavioral Services helps families and children with autism and developmental disabilities reach their highest potential by helping them communicate, develop, and become more self-reliant. They formulate assessments and behavior plans specifically designed to meet individual needs.
Constellation Behavior Services offer school-based and family-based services, including one-on-one ABA therapy, program consultation, workshops, and training.