The most scientifically validated treatment for autism today is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This
intervention is labor intensive and has a national annual average cost of $50,000 – $80,000 per child. The National Research Council, in a landmark 2001 publication (NRC Study), recommended early diagnosis prior to the age of three and intensive intervention for best outcomes. Services should include a minimum of 25 hours a week, 12 months a year administered by highly trained staff, with one-to-one and very small group instruction in which the child is engaged in systematically planned, developmentally appropriate educational activity toward identified objectives.
The main obstacles families face in obtaining effective autism treatment are cost and lack of trained professionals. The cost of intensive ABA programming can range from $50,000 to $70,000 per year per child. Alpine Autism Center is working with the local community providers to pool resources in order to get each individual the effective treatment they need. While effective autism treatment is expensive, the cost of not providing treatment is significant to families and our community. It is estimated that 90% of individuals with autism who do not receive appropriate intervention will require lifelong care. Additionally, without treatment, individuals often develop dangerous and life threatening behaviors, further isolating themselves and their families. While ABA may not be a cure for autism, it does provide for continuous learning with the goal of independent living and enhanced quality of life.