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Paducah, KY: Autism center to open; doc notices increase

Easterseals West Kentucky announced Friday that it would open an autism center in Paducah sometime this fall. “In the past, when we’ve had this conversation and looked for a way to make this happen, it wasn’t possible simply because it was not a sustainable program,” Carroll said. “There was just no funding for that type of service. A few years ago, some things changed in Frankfort in funding; it was a requirement for insurance companies to cover (applied behavior analysis, or ABA) therapy.” Carroll said that since insurance companies now have to cover that therapy, there is a funding stream available for the Paducah program…. Sarah Smith, a board-certified behavior analyst, is Easterseals’ vice president for autism services. “An ABA center is something that western Kentucky has needed for a long time,” she said. “As the rates of autism continue to increase, this is going to provide opportunities for families to get the services they need.”… Carroll said transportation will be available for the autism center for those students who need transportation from their schools. “It’s full-day services that we’ll be able to offer, including meals,” he said. “So, it’s a way that the families who have a child in the spectrum can lead full lives and know that their kids will be taken care of. Even if they are not approved for all-day ABA therapies, those therapies are going to continue at some level.”… Dr. John Cecil, the medical director for Easterseals West Kentucky and a pediatrician, has been anticipating an autism center in Paducah for 40 years. “When I started 40 years ago, 1 in 1,500 children had autism, so it was not very common,” he said. “Now, it’s 1 in 68, so we need help for those kids. “These ABA therapies are the only thing we’ve seen that can make a difference. Medications are not the answer, but the therapy has made a difference.” Cecil said it would take about a year to make an appointment to see an autism specialist in Louisville or at Vanderbilt in Nashville…. “The most important thing: What do you do with the children after they’ve gotten the diagnosis? You’ve got to have somewhere to help with that, so this is the answer.”…


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