Autism telehealth service for Chicago residents
Autism providers look to telehealth to bridge access gaps

More Diagnosis of Autism is on the rise, and professionals are now turning to technology as a way to improve access to applied behavioral analysis services for those living in underprivileged areas. The goal is to reduce wait times for families, particularly in areas where there are limited providers and a high prevalence of autism.

The Benefits

Justin Funces, president of autism services at Learn Behavioral, emphasizes that it is not only access to care but also access to an accurate diagnosis that poses a challenge for these communities. With limited resources and a shortage of professionals who are trained and qualified to diagnose autism, many families in underprivileged areas face significant barriers in getting their child the necessary support.

This has opened the gateway for technology being considered when it comes to improving access to diagnosis and treatment. Critics, however, remain skeptical about the effectiveness and ability of tech to provide comprehensive care.

One of the most promising tech advancements that recently emerged is telehealth. For those unfamiliar with it,  it involves virtual appointments with healthcare professionals. In other words, as long as you have a stable internet connection and a device with video capabilities, such as a laptop or smartphone, you can make an appointment with the doctor. What was proposed to be a solution for COVID-19 lockdowns has now become a solution for individuals with disabilities, especially those living in rural or remote areas.

Remote Personalized Caregiving

Virtual care extends to behavioral health, and board-certified behavioral analysts are now able to supervise caregivers remotely, who provide personalized one-on-one services for individuals with special needs. This has been especially helpful for those who rely on Medicaid benefits, as they often face difficulties accessing reliable healthcare in their communities.

One Company that has incorporated telehealth services during the pandemic is Center for Social Dynamics, a behavioral analysis provider led by CEO Kelly Bozarth. As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted in-person appointments and sessions, the Alameda, California-based Company quickly adapted to telehealth services. This shift not only allowed for continued access to care for patients but it also opened up opportunities for innovation and expansion.

Bozarth shared that her Company received positive feedback from patients and subsequently decided to incorporate virtual reality technology from autism tech startup Floreo. Floreo’s technology provides personalized and interactive education services, making it a perfect fit for the Center for Social Dynamics approach.

Another example of a company leveraging telehealth is Jackson Family Human Services, which is based in Victorville, California, and specializes in applied behavioral analysis. The Company has started using telehealth to address the shortage of available board-certified behavioral analysts for in-person treatment. However, the Company’s founder and CEO, Harry Jackson, expresses reservations about whether remote care can match traditional therapy.

The Downside

Vadgama, a board-certified behavioral analyst, acknowledges the potential benefits of technology in autism care, such as increasing access to treatment and improving research. However, he also emphasizes the importance of not entirely relying on technology for solutions to complex issues like autism. He believes that incorporating technology should be done thoughtfully and with consideration for how it will impact the individual.

“What I worry about with technology is that we miss the human element of what we do.”

For quality autism care, Illinois Autism Center is a well-known resource for families in the city of Chicago. We provide a range of services, including ABA therapy.

With over 12 years of experience, our team of highly trained professionals utilizes evidence-based practices to help individuals with autism reach their full potential.