Center for Autism & Related Disorders Joins NCAAS Coalition In Advancing Access to ABA Therapy for U.S. Military Families In 2022 National Defense Authorization Act

As a founding member of the National Coalition for Access to Autism Services, CARD applauds the coalition’s efforts to secure supportive and inclusive language in the 2022 U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Biden on December 27, 2021, as an important step forward for military families seeking ABA therapy.

PLANO, Texas, and Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Center for Autism and Related Disorders - CARD®;, the world’s largest autism treatment provider and founding member of NCAAS, the voice of the nation’s premier autism treatment providers, welcomes language in the National Defense Authorization Act that seeks to improve the analysis of data collected from active duty and retired military families whose children participate in the Department of Defense’s Autism Care Demonstration (ACD), which provides access to medically necessary services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


“We are proud to be a founding member of NCAAS and pleased to see our concerns addressed in this important legislative achievement, which will benefit our U.S. military families,” said CARD Chief Strategy Officer Julie Kornack. “Membership in NCAAS allows us to connect with a network of like-minded autism industry leaders and advocates who are equally committed to achieving access to effective autism services and supports. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure individuals of all ages with autism have access to highly effective treatment, and our military families deserve the best.”


CARD is grateful for the support of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who championed the issue in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, for supporting the language in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2022.


Since 2019, NCAAS has raised concerns directly with the Department of Defense (DoD) and with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees about the improper use of data collected from TRICARE patients utilizing the PDD Behavior Inventory (PDDBI), an internationally recognized and utilized behavior assessment tool. The DoD’s improper analysis of the data has been the foundation of troubling assertions in quarterly and annual supports submitted by the DoD to Congress. In February 2020, Ira Cohen, Ph.D., the co-creator of the PDDBI, met with the DoD to convey his concerns about the DoD’s improper use of the PDDBI data and the inaccurate conclusions asserted by DoD based on its flawed use of that data. Despite Dr. Cohen’s efforts, subsequent DoD reports to Congress continued to misuse the data and asserted conclusions that Dr. Cohen had clearly shown to be unsupportable.


“I met with the Department of Defense to point out the errors in their application of the PDDBI, and the resulting errors in their conclusions based on the PDDBI. I found it extremely frustrating to see that the Department simply continued to send an additional three quarterly reports and an annual report to Congress with the same erroneous information,” said Dr. Cohen “The conclusions that the Department has made in its reports to Congress about the effectiveness of its Autism Care Demonstration based on its application and analysis of the PDDBI are simply unsupportable,” Dr. Cohen concluded.


In light of these concerns, legislators included language in the NDAA that requires DoD to contract with the National Academies of Sciences to conduct an independent analysis to determine whether data from the PDDBI are being interpreted properly and to complete other analyses to measure the effectiveness of the program.


“Frankly, I am relieved to know that the National Academies of Sciences will ensure qualified experts are scrutinizing the data that comes from the PDDBI,” said Dr. Cohen.


With the Autism Care Demonstration expiring at the end of 2023, thousands of military families are relying on an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of a treatment of ABA, the gold standard in the treatment of developmental delays and interfering behaviors commonly present in children who are diagnosed with ASD.


ABA is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior. Numerous studies show children who have access to ABA are less likely to need additional support and services and are more likely to become independent, thriving contributors to society.


According to the Defense Health Agency (DHA), more than 16,000 children of military families receive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, the primary treatment of ASD, through the ACD.


Now that President Biden has signed NDAA into law, the DoD will have the help of experts from the National Academies of Sciences to ensure greater accuracy in the analysis of treatment outcomes, as well as future reports to Congress.


ABA is an evidence-based ASD treatment recognized by experts:

  • The U.S. Surgeon General considers ABA to be an evidence-based best practice treatment.[1]
  • The CDC has called ABA a “notable treatment approach” that is widely accepted among professionals in many treatment settings.[2]
  • The American Psychological Association has found ABA is “well-grounded in psychological science and evidence-based practice.”[3]
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has noted: “most evidence-based treatment models are based on the principles of ABA.”[4]


About Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)

CARD treats individuals of all ages diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at treatment centers around the globe. CARD was founded in 1990 by leading autism expert and clinical psychologist Doreen Granpeesheh, Ph.D., BCBA-D. CARD treats individuals with ASD using the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is empirically proven to be the most effective method for treating individuals with ASD and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Surgeon General. CARD employs a dedicated team of trained professionals across the nation and internationally. For more information, visit


About National Coalition for Access to Autism Services (NCAAS)

The NCAAS is a nonprofit organization representing autism treatment providers and the hundreds of thousands of children and families they serve in every state who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. NCAAS providers contract with TRICARE, public schools, Medicaid, CHIP, and commercial insurers to provide essential medically necessary treatment to patients of all ages. For more information, visit








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