New law protects Hoosiers with autism and regulates behavior analysts

Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Indiana has a new law that is protecting Hoosiers with autism by requiring behavior analysts to be licensed, which was not required previously.

Representative Chris Judy (R-Fort Wayne) authored the bill back in January. The idea came three years ago when he and his staff visited the Children Autism Center Fort Wayne back when it was located at the Jorgensen YMCA.

For the past couple of sessions, the bill was killed in the Statehouse, but in the year 2021 it made it to the Governor’s desk and was signed into law, Thursday it went into effect.

“This year the stars aligned and it was able to get it a hearing in the house thanks to chairman Vanetter,” Rep. Judy said. “To watch the legislation process over the last three years, being disappointed for two sessions in a row, now to get it across the finish line and on the Governor’s desk, it’s very very rewarding.”

“Everytime we were watching a different hearing or different milestone we did celebrate because we were so happy to see that it actually moved forward this year,” said Jill Forte, co-founder of the Children’s Autism Center.

Before becoming the co-founder of the Children Autism Center, Forte was a stay-at-home mother and caregiver for her son Nick Forte. Back in March she told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that her son was mistreated by an unlicensed behavioral analyst during therapy. She described the experience as “traumatic”.

“There’s different ways to do this,” Forte said in an interview back in March. “Sometimes it’s conducted unethically, and sometimes they’re conducted with more compassionate care. A behavior analyst is a professional who applies the practice of the behavior analysis to individuals to either evoke new behaviors or to teach skills. So it’s important that the industry is regulated much like other any other industry. I think of it that if I were to have a roof put on my house, I know I can to seek out a licensed professional.”

“Families receive the diagnosis of autism, they’re not sure where to turn” Forte explained. “So by having licensure for Behavior Analysts parents can be assured that the person providing services to their child is actually qualified to do so.”

Previously in Indiana, behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts are not required to be board certified or licensed, but many practitioners choose to be licensed by the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. Under Judy’s bill, practitioners would have the option to also apply to a new state licensing board to receive a behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst license. Judy said an Indiana licensed behavior analyst would be a master’s level or above practitioner.

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