Starting January 1 2017, Wyoming began covering applied behavior analysis (ABA) services under the state’s Medicaid program, finally making this respected form of behavior therapy available to many of the State’s children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), up to age 20.
Previously, Wyoming was among just a handful of states with no autism insurance mandate and the only state in the U.S. without a mental health parity law on the books. Though Wyoming still has a ways to go, 2017 represented the beginning of a new era, bringing much needed recognition to ABA and its role in comprehensive ASD therapy.
ABA is taking center stage, not just in Wyoming but throughout the U.S., spurring many states to license and regulate applied behavior analysts, much like with other therapy providers. Many states now either license applied behavior analysts or are in the process of writing or implementing legislature on state-level licensing and regulation.
Though Wyoming has yet to implement a licensing process for applied behavior analysts, the state has taken a major step forward in holding ABA practitioners to stringent standards. The new law that makes ABA services for the treatment of ASD available to Medicaid eligible children and families clearly states that in order for services to be covered, they must be performed by a practitioner that holds certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB):
- Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) – Master’s level credential nationally- recognized as the standard for full-scope applied behavior analysts
- Board-Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctorate (BCBA®-D) – Considered the same credential as BCBA® and does not indicate a higher level of practice authority; requires first earning the BCBA®
- Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) – Bachelor’s level credential for assistant applied behavior analysts; must be supervised by BCBA® or BCBA®-D
- Registered Behavior Technician (RBT®) – Entry-level credential for non-degree holding support staff; must be supervised by BCBA® or BCBA®-D
Earning a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with the Option to Pursue BCBA® Certification
A master’s degree in behavior analysis, or in psychology or education with a focus in behavior analysis, is universally recognized as the minimum educational requirement to enter the field as a full-scope applied behavior analyst, and is the minimum requirement for the BCBA® certification.
The BACB recognizes accredited online programs. Depending on the institution, you may be able to complete all or some of your graduate coursework through flexible, distance-based study. Accredited online programs meet the same rigorous educational standards as their campus-based counterparts through a web-based platform that makes them more accessible to working students.
BACB Graduate Program Requirements and Options
Your graduate degree must meet BACB curriculum requirements to qualify for certification. You can be sure you meet BACB requirements by choosing a master’s or doctoral degree in behavior analysis or a similar field that is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) since it will include a Verified Course Sequence (VCS).
If you choose a program that is not ABAI-accredited or does not include a BACB-verified course sequence, your curriculum may still qualify if the program meets BACB course content allocation requirements and receives approval from the BACB at the time of application.
In addition to traditional master’s and doctoral programs in ABA, the BACB recognizes post-graduate certificate programs and stand alone VCS course sequences (offered independent of a graduate program) for students who already hold a graduate degree and are looking to complete the required courses before taking the BCBA® certification exam.
The BACB also approves Ed.S. programs in ABA for students who want to build upon their master’s degree in an educational specialty.
Practicum and Exam Requirements
BCBA® certification requires a period of supervised professional experience that complements your graduate study. Your practicum may be a part of your ABA graduate program, or you may complete an independent field experience. Many institutions with online programs help students locate and land a practicum with a nearby ABA practice.
Just some of the ABA providers in Wyoming where you may be able to complete your practicum/field experience include:
- Wyoming Department of Health, Behavioral Health Division, Cheyenne
- Wyoming Behavioral Institute, Casper
- Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Behavioral Health, Cheyenne
- High Country Behavioral Health, Afton, Evanston, Kemmerer, and Pinedale
- Trumpet Behavioral Health, Cheyenne
- Jackson Hole Behavioral Services, Jackson
After completing your ABA graduate program and required professional experience, you would need to take and pass the BCBA® Examination.
ABA Services for Autism Diagnoses Now Covered Under the State’s Medicaid Program
Coverage of applied behavior analysis therapy in Wyoming is now available under the State’s Medicaid program.
ABA services will be available to children up to the age of 20 who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Treatment services are limited to 20 visits per year, unless additional treatments are determined to be medically necessary.
ABA covered services for Wyoming Medicaid include:
- Behavior identification assessment
- Observational behavior follow-up assessment
- Adaptive behavior treatment
- Family adaptive behavior treatment guidance
ABA services covered under the Medicaid program must be performed by BCBA®-D (doctoral) and BCBA® practitioners or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts or Registered Behavior Technician under the supervision of a BCBA®-D or BCBA®.
Fighting for an Autism Insurance Mandate for Private Insurers Operating in Wyoming
Even with Medicaid now covering ABA services, Wyoming is one of only a few remaining states to have no insurance coverage mandate for autism spectrum disorder through private insurers. This means that in Wyoming, those covered under individual market and some group and employer plans have no access to ABA services, unless the services are voluntary offered by their employers or through their school.
Trumpet Behavioral Health in Cheyenne, a leading provider of ABA therapy services in southern Wyoming, is hoping to begin an advocacy movement in Wyoming to introduce and pass insurance laws with an ABA mandate for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. As a group, Trumpet Behavioral Health is committed to working with families and providers across the states in hopes of getting a bill sponsored.