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Feds: Ohio must provide treatment to autistic kids

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Education,Associated Press,Ohio

CINCINNATI — The U.S. Department of Education is telling Ohio officials that an intensive treatment for autism must be made available to any child who is considered a good candidate.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the letter comes amid a legal fight over whether federal law requires Ohio to provide the treatment, known as applied behavior analysis.

A Clermont County couple filed a lawsuit last year, accusing the state of discriminating against children with autism by failing to provide the treatment. A federal judge issued a temporary order earlier this year that the state make sure the child received the treatment, saying his parents had established likelihood of proving their claims that the Ohio Health Department and a county board violated a federal act requiring states to provide early intervention services for children with autism, a developmental disorder.

The federal department's director of special education programs told state officials in a letter last week that Ohio must make early intervention services available that "include applied behavior analysis." Melody Musgrove also said the department is monitoring the litigation in Ohio and that the state is responsible for following the rules.

"The U.S. government has ordered the state to fix what is wrong," said Richard Ganulin, attorney for Holly and Robert Young. They say their 3-year-old son Roman has made good progress under the applied behavior analysis treatment that intensively tries to teach autistic children how to learn at critical early stages of development.

The intensive treatment costs some $2,750 weekly for up to 40 hours of therapy.

Ohio Health Department spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said Friday that officials were aware of the federal letter but couldn't comment because it is part of ongoing litigation.

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