Nevada Parents Push for Higher Autism Therapist Pay

Just as all children deserve care, all autism specialists deserve adequate pay, argue Nevadan parents.

Just as all children deserve care, all autism specialists deserve adequate pay, argue Nevadan parents.

Autism therapists have greatly benefited countless families and children. The impact of early intervention and therapy can make a large difference in a child’s life. Verbal skills, motor skills, and a sense of independence can be fostered within children through therapy. Recently, Nevadan parents advocated for the raising of hourly wages for autism therapists, in order to encourage more specialists to work in the state. Nevadan families currently fear that the number of autism therapists is decreasing, because the current rate of $29.50 per hour cannot compare to rates in other states.

In a state with only 95 registered behavior technicians, and a growing number of people and children being diagnosed with autism, autism specialists are becoming more invaluable. Such specialists are needed to create effective programs for families and individuals; without their expertise, families would simply be given programs that give “false hope”, explains Barbara Buckley, former speaker of the Nevada Assembly and director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

On October 19th, parents gathered at a Division of Health Care Financing and Policy meeting to voice their opinions on the issue to Nevada officials. Through a series of testimonies, parents argued that Registered Behavior Technicians should be paid $40 per hour. Parents felt that the relatively low wages would exacerbate the shortage in autism specialists, and lead to children without care, because the number of families that need therapists is becoming much greater than the number of therapists than can help.

Parents also voiced concerns over disparities in the quality of care provided for children with private insurance coverage, and children backed by Medicaid.They urged officials not to create a two-tiered system where children with private insurance get better care than children on Medicaid.

Currently, the state is taking the public’s views into account, as it negotiates an appropriate payment rate with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

By Samantha Mallari

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