During the month of April, individuals and businesses throughout the world take time to honor those on the autism spectrum and recognize the continued need for support, understanding and acceptance. World Autism Month is also a time to celebrate accomplishments and empower both adults and children on the autism spectrum.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the estimated prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the United States is approximately one in 36, up from the previous rate of 1 in 44. To put it into perspective, that number represents 2.7% of 8-year-old children in America.

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) is constantly working to bring accessible healthcare to Eastern Kentucky and to offer an increasing number of specialized services. One service that is directly impacting the region’s autism community is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder. ABA therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that has been proven effective in improving the behavior, communication and social skills of children with autism. ABA therapy is based on positive reinforcement and often results in improved attention, focus, social skills and academics while reducing problem behaviors in many cases. At PMC, ABA therapy the primary therapy utilized at the Appalachian Valley Autism (AVA) Center, the nation’s largest center of this kind.

In addition, three departments at PMC have earned Certified Autism Center (CAC) status by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). These departments are the PMC emergency department, the PMC pediatrics department and the PMC Urgent Care clinic in Pikeville.