ABA therapy benefit no small thing for Purdue families

Beginning in 2012, Steve Beaudoin, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Purdue Energetics Research Center, led the efforts of a small group of Purdue parents to have applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy added to Purdue’s medical coverage.

That coverage went into effect January 1, 2016.

As a self-insured employer, Purdue is exempt from Indiana’s autism mandate. The choice to add coverage for ABA therapy after a great deal of research was made because it was a should, not a must – simply the right thing to do.

“I was delighted when the University agreed with the need to provide comprehensive coverage for autism therapies,” Beaudoin said. “I have also been pleased to be greeted by strangers around town who approach and thank me for helping to make this coverage available at Purdue.  They tell me stories of how well their children are doing, and I must admit it makes my heart glad.” 

JacobOne of those children is Jacob Sheese, whose mother, Danielle, works in the College of Science. Jacob, 13, has been receiving ABA therapy since he was 5.

“Our pediatrician encouraged us to seek out ABA since it is an evidence-based practice with an excellent track record for successful outcomes,” Sheese said. “We were thrilled when Purdue decided to offer ABA benefits under the medical plans. Over the years, we’ve had a number of different medical plans (that have since disappeared and are no longer offered to families). This is a great example of Purdue going above and beyond for its employees.”

Jacob has partially transitioned back to public school, attending half-days with an ABA therapist to provide the extra support he needs.

“The greatest thing about ABA is that it’s not a one size fits all program,” Sheese said. “The goal for Jacob is to build on his strengths while improving his areas of deficit. Our pediatrician is absolutely amazed at the progress he is making every time we see her.”

Beaudoin echoes the value of this coverage.

“I recognize that this is an expense for the University, but the return on this investment is high in terms of the improvements in the quality of life and long-term outcomes of the children affected. I expected it would be too late to be valuable for my own son, but we have been able to use services which have helped him to be more independent, more expressive and healthier,” Beaudoin said. “I am glad to work at a place that values families and children in this way.”