Legislation to make services for children with autism more accessible a step closer to becoming law

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A bill to make treatment of people with autism more accessible in North Carolina is headed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk for his signature.

House Bill 91 removes the requirement that behavior analysts working in the state must be supervised by licensed psychologists. It was unanimously approved by the House on Monday. The bill also received unanimous support in the Senate.

Bill supporters and those who supported a companion bill, Senate Bill 103, say removing the restriction will make the state more attractive to behavior analysts.

There are only 62 psychologists to oversee the work of roughly 680 people who could provide care for the state’s 65,000 children with autism, according to State Sen. Jim Perry, a Republican from Kinston, who co-sponsored SB 103.

Rep. John Bell, a Republican from Goldsboro, co-sponsored HB 91.

The rural parts of the state need more behavior analysts trained in applied behavior analysis (ABA), a type of therapy that can improve social, communication and learning skills in children with autism through positive reinforcement.

Kyle Robinson and his wife Bobbie created Aces for Autism in 2014, three years after son Samuel was diagnosed with autism. The nonprofit serves children with autism in Pitt County, where there is a dearth of such facilities. Bobbie and Samuel had driven 200 miles to Winston-Salem to receive the services Samuel needed.

“Before we had autism impact us directly, we really didn’t know the various issues that families with children with autism have,” Robinson shared with Policy Watch in March.

Robinson, the director of basketball operations at East Carolina University in Greenville, shared this celebratory tweet Monday:

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