Meet Ava Bullard, a second-year college student in Georgia and an activist for those with autism. At two years old, her parents were convinced she would never speak, yet after only two years, she cried out her first ‘mama.’It was a joyful surprise to her parents who had almost completely given up hope.

After a further five years, when Ava was nine years old, she showed tremendous bravery by speaking in front of state legislators at the Georgia State Capitol advocating for herself and other children with autism.

AVA’s struggles and hopes

Ava always attributes her success to Applied Behavior Analysis, a therapy that enabled her to not only speak but also find her voice as an advocate.In Ava’s own words: “I would have never been able to speak if I didn’t have ABA therapy”. She also wants all children with autism at least to receive the same chance for success. Ava’s dream, of course, presented unique challenges.

For instance, it’s all too common for families to face insurance company roadblocks or an inability to find qualified providers when trying to access therapies for their children.

In 2006, Ava’s mother was told that ABA therapy was the “Cadillac version” of treatment—expensive and hard to come by. And sure enough, the family soon received a letter from their health insurer saying that autism therapy was an “excluded coverage,” leaving them to foot the bill for any speech and occupational services. But even when all seemed lost, Ava’s family never gave up—through hard work and determination, they were able to find a therapist in South Carolina who could come to their small town.

Ava’s law

Raising money out of pocket, they managed to get Ava the care she needed, and within just a few weeks, she could communicate and express her needs in ways that people could understand. Ava’s experience prompted the passing of Ava’s law, which mandates coverage for ABA and other evidence-based treatments in all 50 states. Still, this hasn’t been enough to ensure easy access to these services.

In fact, Nevada recently expanded access to ABA by allowing Medicaid beneficiaries up to age 27 even though waitlists for autism diagnosis and treatment remain long due to technician certification requirements and low reimbursement rates.

ABA therapy

Ava has the hope that no child will be denied access to quality ABA services. She wants all children and families to have the same success as her own, so she’s tirelessly working to ensure everyone can experience it. As she puts it, “ABA changed my life” For those on an ABA therapy journey, Ava says, “Don’t throw in the towel! It’s worth it!” There are excellent Treatment Centers supporting individuals with autism, but Nevada Autism is a leader in the field.

They are committed to helping Nevada families access top-notch ABA services and provide education on effective treatment options so individuals with autism can have hope for a fantastic future.

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