2015 Tidewater Autism Summit Seventh Annual

Saturday November 7th 2015

Click here for the donation form.

Dear Friends,

The Virginia Autism Project and leading Tidewater Autism community organizations will host our Seventh Annual Autism Summit! Last years event was the largest gathering of Autism Service providers in Virginia’s history and we hosted over 500 Families. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, November 7th from 11:00 -3:00 at the Waterman’s Festival Center at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Our Autism Summit is a day for families to gather information and learn of the services our Autism community has to offer.  We offer this event at no cost for all providers & families. We provide food and beverages, free toys for all children in attendance, a bounce house, petting zoo, bubble land and a host of other Autism Sensory areas. This allows parents to meet service providers and set up services to assist their children. This is a great opportunity for families to find and secure the support they need for the difficult and challenging diagnosis of Autism.  We welcome for profit, not for profit, local, state, federal and faith based service providers in an attempt to provide families access to all who can assist them.

Autism is a neurobiological condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and to interact with others.  More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.  Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.  Autism now affects 1 in 56 children, chances are you know someone who has been affected by autism and if you do not today you will tomorrow.

In order to make this years Autism Summit successful I respectively request your assistance! This event is offered free with no charge participation and attendance we are requesting donations to help offset the costs associated with an event of this magnitude.  In exchange we offer mention of your personal or company’s support on all TV, radio and press interviews as well as display of your provided company banner and web site inclusion if you so choose

The Virginia Autism Project is a  501c3 tax # 26-4537075.

Please send your donation Payable to the Virginia Autism Project to 210 40th St Virginia Beach VA 23451 attention Mark Llobell

If you have questions or need more information contact Mark at 757-572-5412 vaptidewater@gmail.com

We thank you for your support!

Mark Llobell

Virginia Autism Project Founding Member

Autism, Insurance, and ABA in Virginia

Date: 3/26/2013, 10:00am Eastern

YOU MUST Register here

After 10 years of effort, the Virginia Legislature passed a law mandating that insurance companies cover diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder including Applied Behavior Analysis. But what is Applied Behavior Analysis? Who provides the services? How do I access the treatment for my child with Autism? This presentation will provide some background on ABA and Autism, the new law, and those who provide the service. Then both parents and providers will be offered tips on accessing the insurance benefits.

Christy Evanko lives outside of Richmond, Virginia with her husband, two daughters, and one son who has Autism. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from Penn State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Christy is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst(R) with a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas. She is a co-owner of Snowflakes ABA, LLC and works with children on the autistic spectrum using Applied Behavior Analysis. She also created a piano program called Piano Foundations for Children with Autism and writes inclusion books under the label, Good Friend Books.

Christy devoted much of her time and energy in helping with the passage of HB1106 (2012) which was the licensing law for Behavior Analysts in Virginia. Don’t miss out on this wonderful training!

Fourth Annual Tidewater Autism Summit

Saturday, October 20th–Virginia Beach,
Tidewater Summit, 11:00 to 3:00

Tidewater Autism Summit

Quality Inn and Suitesl

Virginia Beach Oceanfront

705 Atlantic Ave.

Virginia Beach, VA

Autism insurance seminars are scheduled for 11:30, 1:00, and 2:30 (Free)

Autism Speaks will discuss Autism service changes for military families at 12:00 and 1:30.

BCBA Working Group Updates

The Board of Medicine and a working group made up of BCBAs and other licensed professionals had their first meeting on March 12, 2012. They are tasked with developing the license regulations for BCBAs under the law that would require reimbursement for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and treatment by a BCBA for children with a diagnosis of autism.

Appointees to the working group are:

  • Eli Newcomb, BCBA

    Faison School, Assistant Director


  • Theodore Hoch, BCBA


  • Kristin Helgerson, MS, BCBA


  • Lauren-Lee Askew, (Assistant) BCABA


  • Christine Evanko, BA, MBA-consumer


  • Anthony Pelonero, MD

    Anthem Medical Director for Mental Health


  • Virginia Van de Water, Ph.D, Psychologist

    Past member, Virginia Board of Medicine


Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists spoke to the group. He had two basic talking points. The first was that the VACP strongly urges the working group to consider Liscensed psychologists’ extensive role in implementing behavior analysis in the past. They’d obviously like to be grandfathered into any licensing regulation w/o being made to acquire additional licenses. His second was that the group should take effort to increase the transparency of BCBA’s billing practices. He claimed (falsely) that BCBAs currently bill for work their uncertified workers (tutors) do, without actually doing any work.

This false accusation was addressed by Kristen Helgerson, MS, BCBA on the panel.

The public is invited and welcome to attend the meetings.

The minutes of the meeting will be posted at http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/ and on www.dhp.state.va.us/medicine/medicine_calendar.htm

The public is invited and encouraged to attend these meetings.

UPDATE on Autism Insurance Reform (1.17.2012)

June Update

Virginia required a license for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs) to practice Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Virginia.

The process for developing the regulations included a Working Group of 3 BCBAs and a BCaBA as well as a consumer and two doctors. The Working Group met 3 times to develop draft regulations.

The original proposed draft regulations which staff introduced to the group were amended by the Working Group. The original proposed draft was not acceptable to the Working Group because it would have prevented unlicensed but supervised individuals from delivering ABA services. The working group listened to input from the public and BCBA professionals. They drastically changed the regulations to ensure the continued right to practice and supervise in Virginia. They amended the regulations and among other things, tied the licensure and renewal to the national certification board, the Behavior Analysts Certification Board (BACB). Equally as important and pivotal for the profession, they restored the supervision of trained, unlicensed individuals by BCBAs and BCaBAs.

These draft regulations were then presented to the full Board of Medicine on Thursday, June 21, 2012. The Board of Medicine ignored the Working Group proposed regulations, the public comment of the professionals, providers and family members and reverted to the staff’s original draft of the regulations, which was not voted on or approved of by the Working Group.

At this time, the proposed regulations from the Board of Medicine would not allow unlicensed but supervised therapists to deliver ABA in Virginia which would shut down the current services to children on the autism spectrum in Virginia.

This has sweeping implications for schools, Tricare beneficiaries, service providers, DMAS and anyone that uses unlicensed but supervised behavior therapists to provide ABA therapy. ABA therapy for children with autism is typically provided by trained behavior therapists or para-professionals under the supervision of licensed therapists. This service model is accepted by the federal government, the Tricare military insurance program, and the majority of commercial insurance carriers in almost 30 states around the nation.

  • There are currently about 300 licensed BCBA therapists in Virginia.
  • There are about 20,000 children with autism in Virginia.
  • A direct-care therapist can service roughly 3-4 children per week.
  • Assuming the above figures, Virginia would have to have 6,000 therapists to meet the existing need.

We are very concerned about the BOM’s lack of consideration for the Working Group’s recommendations for the regulations that will govern the BCBA and BCaBA profession.

We are especially concerned because the regulations say that unlicensed people who are supervised by licensed behavior analysts cannot practice ABA. The definition of ABA covers all things that both certified and non certified individuals would do. The current wording would prohibit students in VA from completing fieldwork to become board certified and it would also prohibit certified behavior analysts from training others to implement behavior analytic techniques. But most concerning of all is the fact that thousands of children with a diagnosis of autism in Virginia and countless others that receive behavior analytic services stand to lose care they are already receiving, or will be denied care they need.

There are several more steps through which these proposed regulations need to go. Ultimately they will end up with the Governor for his approval. Stay connected with the Virginia Autism Project on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaAutismProject and Twitter @VaAutismProject. JOIN OUR MAILING LIST and tell other BCBA and BCaBA professionals to contact Megan Miller, M.S. BCBA at millermegan.mm@gmail.com

We have a lot of work yet to do- but we won’t back down!

February 8, 2012

Governor McDonnell signed HB 1106 into law on February 7. The Virginia Autism Project would like everyone to thank the Governor and their Legislators!

Click here to send Governor McDonnell a Thank You Note!

Remind him HB 1106 is the technical fix for the autism law so that families may access benefits provided by insurance for ABA therapy after a license for BCBAs is in place.

Thank Delegate Greason: DelTGreason@house.virginia.gov

You can find out who your legislators are at Richmond Sunlight and then contact them to thank them for their support.

With much appreciation for everyone’s hard work!

Thank Autism Speaks!

Judith Ursitti Judith.Ursitti@autismspeaks.org

Lorri Unumb lorri.unumb@autismspeaks.org

Thank our Lobbyists!

Angie Bezik abezik@principle-advantage.com

Anne Flandermeyer annflan@principle-advantage.com

January 31, 2012 Status Update:

HB 1106 passed out of the Senate Monday with a resounding 40-0 vote.

The families and providers in the Gallery were recognized by Senator Janet Howell as she introduced the bill. Although it was initially voted on in the Uncontested Calendar, a technical malfunction required a separate vote.

The next step is to await the Governor’s signature!

Please take a minute to thank your Senator for voting for HB 1106:

Richmond Sunlight allows you to identify your Senator and contact them via email.

Thank You Everyone!

January 28, 2012 Status Update:

HB 1106 flew out of Senate Education and Health Committee unanimously. The Senate waived the first reading of the bill and the Second reading was Friday. On Monday, January 30, 2012, HB 1106 will be on the uncontested calendar and hopefully the Senate will pass the measure with little or no fanfare.

Senator Janet Howell is ready to defend the bill if someone raises any questions and she conformed her bill to the House bill.

After the bill passes the Senate, it goes to the Governor for his signature and the 280 day clock will start running.

January 17, 2012 Status Update:

Huge accomplishment today (one of many more to go).

HB 1106 as introduced was amended after discussions with the Governor’s staff and the insurance industry. KEY provisions of the amended draft as agreed:

  • Emergency Clause: Regulations within 280 days.
  • A Working Group rather than an Advisory Board: made up of 3 BCBAs who have been practicing at least 3 years; one BCaBA practicing at least 3 years, one consumer or family member and no more than 2 others that the Board of Medicine may deem it necessary to appoint.
  • This Working Group will draft regulations to regulate BCBAs, BCaBAs and the supervision of unlicensed individuals providing ABA.

HB 1106 was passed out of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions committee on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 with a 21-0 vote.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the bill will be on the Floor of the House of Delegates for First Reading, Second Reading (debate) and Third Reading (vote).

We are very grateful to Delegate Greason and the members of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions committee for their support of children with a diagnosis of autism and their families.


  • Thank the members of the committee for their “yes” vote.
  • Contact all the Delegates and be present on Thursday for the debate and Friday for the VOTE!

WE must have 80 votes to keep our emergency clause and regulations within 280 days. Keep pushing!!


The bill that passed in the Virginia 2011 legislative session required insurance coverage of treatment and therapy including Applied Behavior Analysis, (ABA) for children ages 2-6 on the Autism Spectrum.

At the last minute the Governor added an amendment to our bill, which has delayed the implementation of the ABA coverage.

The Governor’s amendment to license Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) in Virginia was determined by the Attorney General’s office to be inadequate to authorize the Board of Medicine to write the regulations to govern the licensure. Thus, under the current law the way it is written, it is impossible to have ABA reimbursed by insurance.

The law had a mandate that the insurance companies prepare to provide coverage on January 1, 2012. The key therapy (ABA) will not be covered and families are once again facing out of pocket expenses that they cannot hope to afford.

Insurance companies have built the cost of covering this therapy, as mandated by the bill, into their premiums for the 2012 policy year. They are pocketing that amount without having to pay for the therapy.

The 2012 legislative session has to FIX the law with language that will either authorize the Board of Medicine to act to promulgate regulations to license BCBAs in Virginia or altogether remove the licensure provision from the bill.

The Virginia Autism Project is coordinating efforts with our Patrons to properly implement this law.

Next Steps:

January 11, 2012 First day of Legislative Session

  • Stay Tuned for Autism Legislative Day plans (date to be announced)
  • Delegate Tag Greason and Senator Janet Howell are each introducing bills to fix the technical issues presented by the Governor’s amendment to our bill in the last session.
  • BCBAs, BCaBAs, Providers and Families: JOIN OUR MAILIING LIST and receive ACTION NOTICES
  • DONATE to the Virginia Autism Project to help us pay for expenses to implement the law.

What Does it Mean for you?

Virginia Autism Insurance Reform: What Does It Mean for You?

A Series of Workshops for Parents:

October 8, Saturday–Richmond, 10 a.m.

Hyatt Place Richmond Airport

4401 South Laburnum Avenue,

Richmond, VA 23231 (Free)

October 15, Saturday–Virginia Beach,
Tidewater Summit, 12:00 and 2:00

Tidewater Autism Summit , VAP

Double Tree Hotel

Virginia Beach Convention Center

1900 Pavillion Dr

Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Summit hours 11:00-4:00

Insurance Breakouts at 12:00 and 2:00 (Free)

October 15, Saturday –Roanoke,
GRVAAG Conference (small conference charge)

1338 Rainbow Forest Drive

Troutville, VA 24175

At the Rainbow Forest Baptist Church

November 3, Thursday–Northern Virginia,
10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Metro Offices

Ballston Office Center

4601 N Fairfax Drive

Suite 1200

Arlington, VA 22203 (Free)

November 10, Thurs.—Fredericksburg 7 p.m.

Salem Church Library

2607 Salem Church Road

Fredericksburg, VA 22407 (Free)

December 3, Saturday– Richmond, 10 a.m.

River Road United Methodist Church,

8800 River Road,

Richmond 23229. (Free)


Families whose employer has 50 or more employees and whose medical insurance is NOT a self-funded plan.

After three years of work together in the Virginia Legislature, the Virginia Autism Project and Autism Speaks brought autism insurance to Virginia.

What can you do if you are entitled to coverage under the autism insurance mandate and you receive a denial letter?

Join us at one of our workshops!


Virginia Autism Project and Autism Speaks join Virginia families in applauding Governor Bob McDonnell for signing House Bill 2467 and Senate Bill 1062 into law on May 6, 2011.

This legislation requires state-regulated health plans to provide coverage of autism diagnosis and treatment for children between the ages of two to six. Stakeholders and Virginia legislators have been working to pass autism insurance reform legislation in the Commonwealth for more than a decade.

HB 2467 was sponsored in the House by Delegates Tag Greason (District 32) and Tim Hugo (District 40). SB 1062 was sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Janet Howell (District 32).

“HB 2467 and SB 1062 are the culmination of over 11 years of legislative work, and countless hours of effort put forth by the parents and advocates in support of Autism,” said Delegate Tag Greason. ”This legislation delicately balances the needs of our families with the struggles that employers throughout the Commonwealth are faced with. It is the right thing to do and I am proud to be a small part of the process.”

Senator Janet Howell, who has a grand-nephew diagnosed with autism, stated “Finally, finally, after a decade of effort by advocates, insurance companies will be required to provide applied behavioral analysis treatment for young children with autism. It has been an incredible struggle to achieve this victory. I am so proud of the many families and Autism Speaks for their persistence and dedication in getting help for young children. I am honored to have played a part in the struggle.”

”Thanks to the efforts of Autism Speaks and the many families across our state, we are on the verge of providing many children with a diagnosis of autism with services that they have long needed. With this bill, we begin to lift the darkness that is autism.” said Delegate Tim Hugo.

The passage of Virginia’s legislation is a milestone, as over half of the states have now enacted legislation to address autism insurance discrimination, requiring private health insurance to cover essential autism treatments and services, including applied behavior analysis. In the absence of coverage, families often pay as much as they can out-of-pocket for services that can cost upwards of $50,000 per year. In the process, many risk their homes and the educations of their unaffected children – essentially mortgaging their entire futures.

”Autism Speaks applauds Governor McDonnell for listening to Virginia’s families and signing SB 1062 and HB 2467 into law. This legislation will extend a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. ”In addition, we are grateful for the remarkable commitment and leadership of Senator Howell, Senate Majority Leader Saslaw, Delegate Greason, Delegate Hugo, and Speaker Howell on this issue.”

“We are grateful to our patrons in the House and Senate for leading us down the path to passage by the legislature and we thank Governor McDonnell for signing the bill into law” said Virginia Advocacy Chair Teresa Champion.

In addition to Virginia, twenty-seven states – Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures are considering similar legislation during the 2011 session.

Autism Groups Applaud VA General Assembly for Passing Revised Autism Insurance Reform Legislation

Autism Speaks today joined Virginia families, the Virginia Autism Project, and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the members of the Virginia General Assembly for their return of Senate Bill 1062 and House Bill 2467 to Governor Bob McDonnell. Both chambers approved four of the five amendments proposed by the Governor, who has indicated that he will sign the legislation. Senate Bill 1072 and House Bill 2647 require health insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based autism therapies, including applied behavior analysis (ABA).

If enacted, SB 1062, sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Janet Howell (District 32), and HB 2467, sponsored in the House by Delegates Tag Greason (District 32) and Tim Hugo (District 40), will require insurance coverage of autism therapies for children between the ages of two and six, a critical period for the administration of early intensive intervention therapies for individuals with autism.

“Autism Speaks applauds the members of the General Assembly for listening to Virginia’s families and returning SB 1062 and HB 2467 to the Governor in a meaningful form. This legislation will extend a helping hand to families that have been financially devastated by the lack of insurance coverage for necessary autism therapies,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Howell, Senate Majority Leader Saslaw, Delegate Greason, Delegate Hugo, and Speaker Howell on this issue and now call on Governor McDonnell to sign these bills into law, allowing Virginia to become the 26th state to join the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism.”

To date, twenty-five states – Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin – have enacted autism insurance reform legislation. Several other state legislatures are expected to consider similar legislation during the current 2011 session.

“We are grateful to our patrons in the House and Senate for leading us down the path to passage by the legislature,” said Virginia Chapter Advocacy Chair Teresa Champion. “We look forward to the Governor signing the bill as promised.”

The 2011 Legislative Session Is Here!

We have two bills this year filed for autism insurance reform.

SB 1061 – Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder; relating to the state employee health benefit plan. This bill only covers state employees.

SB 1062 – Relating to health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorder. This bill excludes state employees.

There are reasons for this approach:

  1. Several legislators last year were concerned that our bill excluded state employees.
  2. If state employees are included, then the bill has a fiscal impact for the state budget and we have been told, nothing will pass that costs the state money.
  3. SB 1062 does not have a fiscal impact for the state and if the legislators want to ensure coverage for state employees, then we have a bill that will do that and they can support SB 1061 without endangering SB 1062 by giving it a state budget impact.

You may be concerned because our bill is very limited:

  • $35,000 for Ages 2-6
  • Include employers with more than 50 employees

We are picking up where we left off last session. We ended up here in the last session after our bill was amended down many times. This bill passed the Senate last year and we believe we can do that again this year. That leaves the House of Delegates to convince and then the Governor.

We have some added value items in our bill. This year it defines what Medically Necessary treatment is for autism. This language came from the Secretary of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services report and it is very helpful to us. We also used the term “behavioral health treatment” rather than “habilitative or rehabilitative care”. This aligns with federal legislation terminology.

This bill is a good first step for us to establish the true costs of autism treatment to the insurance industry.

Texas passed similar legislation in 2007 through age 6 and then expanded it in 2009.

Please call one of the VAP Board members below to ask questions or just vent. We want to hear from you. Give us an opportunity to explain what our plan is for passage.

Pat DiBari 703.999.9686

Teresa Champion 703.517.9504

Lavada Robertson 540.915.7800

Talking points, tips, and more:

Who’s my legislator?

How to contact your legislator for a visit

Talking Points for 2011 Autism Insurance Reform (PDF)

Tips on how to prepare for talking to your Legislator (PDF)

“Insurance Coverage for Autism in Virginia” by Lori Unumb, Autism Speaks (PDF)