An autistic boy in Clermont County won a federal court victory Tuesday that could open the door for thousands of children to receive more help from the state.
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett ordered the Ohio Department of Health and the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities to give the two-year-old boy 40 hours a week of intensive therapy that the state had previously refused to provide.
The boy’s parents, Holly and Robert Young, sued the state last month after trying for more than a year to convince health department officials that their son, Roman, needed the therapy to fulfill his potential and one day become self-sufficient.
The Williamsburg couple said the therapy, known as applied behavior analysis, is crucial during an autistic child’s early years and their son would suffer lasting damage without it.
State officials said they provide basic speech therapy and other services to autistic children but are not required to do more.
Judge Barrett disagreed, saying the child would “suffer irreparable harm if he is not provided appropriate early intervention services.” He said those services, at least in Roman’s case, should include applied behavior analysis.
“We’re just overjoyed,” Holly Young said. “ We’re so excited, so hopeful.”
Although Barrett’s ruling came in a temporary restraining order and is not final, it is a strong indication he believes the Youngs will win if the case proceeds to trial.
If the ruling stands and survives appeal, it could lead to much broader use of the intensive therapy by autistic children who currently are unable to obtain it. The therapy costs about $2,750 for 40 hours of care per week.
The treatment is a form of behavior modification considered effective with autistic children, particularly during their formative years.