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Autism advocates rally at the Capitol after WVU Special Education Program is cut

Advocacy group seeks support for House Bill 4723

Release from Autism advocates:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Autism advocates gathered at the West Virginia Capitol today (Tuesday, Feb. 18) urging lawmakers to fund a training and retention program for Board Certified Behavior Analysts. 

Sarah Harris, executive director
Community Autism Resources and Education Systems (CARES), shares information at the Capitol

Behavior Analysts provide the most highly recommended therapy for children with autism,  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  Due to provider shortages, less than 10% of children in WV have access to this treatment prescribed by their doctor. 

The only in-state provider training program has been cut.  WVU’s special education program housed the Behavior Analysis program, but the program, along with the entire graduate special education program were discontinued this fall.

Autism Advocates are urging lawmakers to provide funding for the behavior analysis training program to be rehoused in the Health Sciences department, and to pass House Bill 4723, which would include behavior analysts in an existing student loan repayment program. 

“We have to train and retain more ABA providers.  Failing to do so contributes both to the “brain drain” and overextends our teachers,”  said, Jill Scarbro-McLaury, Founder of Community Autism Resources and Education Systems.  “Young professionals who want to provide ABA services, and the families who need their help are both leaving the state.  Additionally, because children aren’t receiving medically necessary services,  we continue to require teachers to bear the full weight of caring and educating children with significant needs.” 

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