An International Autism Perspective

There are approximately 74 million people with autism in the world, using a conservative prevalence-rate of 1 in 100. Coupled with an alarming anticipated annual growth rate of 10-17 %, the worldwide challenge of how to care for those on the autism spectrum is very serious. Considering that at least 3 to 4 (million?) people, who we refer to collectively as the Autism Empowerment Group (AEG), treat or care for those 74 million, the number of those involved with, and impacted by, autism is well over 200 million people worldwide.

Astoundingly, less than 10% of the world’s population with autism has access to a life-changing intervention known as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Why? ABA experts, called Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBAs), number only 23,000 worldwide. With approximately 21,000 practicing in the United States, there are less than 2,000 BCBAs available to provide ABA services to the remaining 70 million people in the world. As a result of the extreme scarcity of ABA experts to treat and supervise intervention programs, ABA therapy is only accessible in about 20 countries.

ABA is an evidenced-based intervention. With early and intensive intervention, it has proven to generate a 47% success rate in helping children with autism to mainstream. Furthermore, ABA can help over 90% of people on the autism spectrum achieve some level of independence.

The universal challenge then is two-fold: 1) ABA programs consume a significant amount of time and resources to implement. Typically, ABA therapy is about 35 hours per week. 2) Correspondingly, ABA is very expensive with costs ranging from $75,000 – $125,000 annually. Even if a portion of ABA therapy is covered by insurance, the out-of-pocket costs are still substantial.

As a result of the very limited 1:1 intervention access by certified professionals and the added sizable cost (if even available), the ABA community faces an ongoing scenario whereby millions lose the ability to mainstream and live independent lives. Even money cannot buy services that do not exist. The challenges are formidable but surmountable.

The Special Learning Solution

As the ABAP standard is available globally, we can begin to fill the gap between millions of people requiring ABA intervention and those capable of delivering quality ABA intervention services.

As we now understand, the global scale, growth and long-term societal implications of autism are profound. Left to the status-quo, the number of those on the spectrum who have not had a chance to mainstream or become more independent will grow exponentially every year.

The only way to challenge and change the status-quo is to use technology to find a solution to replicate and scale the most proven and accepted intervention therapy, ABA, to make it available to the millions who cannot access it and/or afford it. Special Learning has spent the last 6 years developing, designing, testing, refining and now implementing the best and most cost-effective means to access ABA Special Learning (programs and materials?) through digital, virtual or web access to quality. Our flexible learning platform makes ABA training, education and virtual consultation or supervision accessible to those estimated 200 million individuals who provide intervention, direct care and support. This tech-based delivery method fosters connected access to ABA experts to anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world! We have partnered with clients in 84 countries using our global perspective to create multi-language culturally appropriate products and services.

Once trained, who can provide effective ABA intervention? Experts (BCBAs), Intervention clinicians (implementers), Educators, Parents and other professionals such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers, and nurses who work with individuals with autism.

Yes, Special Learning can teach a motivated individual to become an ABA practitioner. This means that parents can now become their child’s therapist.

Special Learning’s flexible and customized training programs, which have all been created in partnership with top Board Certified Behavior Analysts and other global experts, are available across the entire ABA learning spectrum: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

As a global company, we are sensitive to language and cultural barriers that may get in the way of people being able to access this critical intervention. As such, we are committed to providing access to as many people as possible. Starting with Spanish, our bi-lingual products will allow us to expand our reach so that we can help millions of people…. One person at a time.