Rural communities are unable to benefit from the science of Applied Behavior Analysis because of the lack of Board Certified Behavior Analysts in rural communities. For example, in the state of Texas during the year 2010 there were only about 600 Board Certified Behavior Analysts with an even smaller amount of 21 servicing rural counties. One other reason that rural counties are missing Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) is because of the cost of the service.
BCBAs can provide a multitude of necessary services to rural areas particularly in the area of autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis have grown steadily in the last ten years. BCBAs may work in outpatient clinics, residential facilities, and public schools. In public schools BCBAs help reduce problem behaviors, and train staff about Applied Behavior Analysis.
The use of behavioral therapy from a BCBA can be expensive. A program can cost parents nearly one-hundred thousand dollars per year. There are many avenues available to offset or eliminate this cost, such as private insurance, public agencies, and school districts. Cost is one of the largest barriers for rural communities but can be overcome. For example, a law known as SB 946 in California has made it mandatory for private insurance companies to cover autism services provided by a BCBA. Several other states have done the same. California also has what is known a regional center system which is under the Department of Developmental Services many children diagnosed with ASD can receive ABA services without charge.
One way to get BCBAs to rural areas is to train someone who already resides in the community. This has many advantages and costs considerably less than having direct service delivered from a BCBA. The costs would include the university training for the recruit, and supervision from a BCBA. Usually supervision occurs about four to eight hours per month depending on the BCBA.
Mason, L. L., Perales, J., & Gallegos, E. (2013). Community-based development of rural behavior analysts. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 32(3), 20-23