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Tampa, FL: Parents wants ABA therapy available to students across Florida

Oct 2, 2023, Bay News9, Tampa Bay, FL: Hillsborough County group seeks to expand autism therapy in schoolso expand autism therapy in schools

Parents of autistic students in Hillsborough County are coming together to change current applied behavior analysis therapy legislation.
They created the “Project ABA Rights” group to urge lawmakers to make changes, ensuring the tool is available to students across the state.

ABA therapy refers to applied behavior analysis, which a group of Hillsborough County parents is working to make more available to students with autism.

A local group called "Project ABA Rights" is working to change current law to make that happen.

School Board Member Karen Perez says ABA therapy is imperative for autistic students....

Tamara Perez’s son, Grayson, was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. He’s had an ABA therapist in school with him every day, and she said you can see the difference the therapy has made just by looking at his school pictures over the years....

So last year, when his principal suddenly threatened to do away with ABA therapy, and not allow the therapists into schools, she said the prospect worried her….

Perez got to work spreading the word. She made a video explaining that ABA therapy was being threatened, despite it not costing the school anything, and technically being required by law.

“There is a sentence in the law that we feel is more of a loophole that says the principal or teacher does have to agree to the time or place, and depending on how you read the law, if you’re reading from a collaboration, and you’re intending to collaborate, the law makes sense if you’re reading it and you’re trying not to collaborate and get out of that, you have a different interpretation,” she said.

Her video went viral and Project ABA Rights was born. Grayson’s principal has since had a change of heart, and is allowing the therapy, but Tamara is working with parents across the state to change the verbiage of the law to ensure no students are forced to go without this valuable help.

Hillsborough County Schools Interim Superintendent Van Ayres, and Board Member Karen Perez are joining Project ABA Rights for an event on Oct. 18 to talk about ABA therapy in Hillsborough County schools.

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