When Dr. Karen Fessel’s son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum in 2001, her doctors initially didn't want to label her child as autistic. “They thought the label would stigmatize him for life and ABA was not recommended for him because he was high on the spectrum,” says Fessel, who is the founder and executive director of Mental Health & Autism Insurance Project.

ABA refers to applied behavioral analytics, a treatment that aims to determine how a person diagnosed with developmental delays behaves in social situations and how they can learn and adapt for their surroundings. ABA is used for autistic children and teens with severely impaired language, self-help and play skills and can also diminish aggressive and self-stimulatory behaviors as well as self-injury.

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