Farmington Hills, MI – As the prevalence of autism in the U.S. increases, Judson Center has received the go-ahead from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and Blue Care Network (BCN) to open an approved autism evaluation center (AAEC) in Flint.
The center, which began servicing families on June 14th, is a vital addition to the agency’s comprehensive Autism Connections services offered at locations in Flint, Royal Oak, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor and Warren.
Families covered through BCBSM or BCN must have their child assessed at an approved autism evaluation center to confirm a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Then, if the recommended treatment plan includes applied behavior analysis (ABA), the therapy will qualify for coverage from the Blues. Currently, there are 23 AAEC sites in Michigan.
“It is quite an honor to be among the organizations to receive this very important designation,” said Judson Center President and CEO Lenora Hardy-Foster. “We are proud to have met all of the criteria to become an approved autism evaluation center. Judson Center has provided autism services in Michigan since 2005, and now we are pleased to offer a much-needed autism assessment option for Blue Cross Blue Shield and Blue Care Network families across the state.”
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurobiological disorder that impacts the development of social and communication skills, sensory regulation, and behaviors. The most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate an estimated 1 in 36 children have autism spectrum disorder. That’s up from 1 in 44 children in 2018.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the recommended treatments for ASD. The ABA therapy helps children function as independently as possible by focusing on social skills, communication, academic and learning skills, motor dexterity, hygiene and grooming, and more. Research has shown that consistent ABA can significantly improve behaviors and skills in children with autism.
“Children diagnosed with ASD do much better with early intervention,” said Judson Center Chief Operating Officer Susan Salhaney. “So, now we will be able to help more families whose children need evaluation to determine if they have this diagnosis. The evaluations are done by a multidisciplinary team consisting of a psychologist, pediatrician, speech and language pathologist, and a board-certified behavior analyst. It’s a very thorough and intensive assessment process that also includes the child’s parents.”