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Scottsdale group starts autism program for kids

PHOENIX — One in 64 Arizona children has been diagnosed with autism, and a Valley group is now offering to help those kids.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy has been aiding people with autism for decades, but a new program in Scottsdale will focus on helping the youth.

“We’ll start with kiddos maybe 3 to 5 years old and work with them until they don’t need services anymore. We’ll work with them as long as we can,” said Gina Griffiths, a spokeswoman for Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services, or STARS.

Griffiths said ABA therapy can foster some basic skills in children.

“There’s a lot of focus on social skills,” said Griffiths. “There’s a lot of focus on life skills, and on communication.”

The program is being made possible through a grant from The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation.

Griffiths said that Arizona families with autistic kids can get help paying for the treatment if they need it.

“In the state of Arizona, we have a law called ‘Steven’s Law,’ and insurance companies are mandated to provide autism benefits,” she said.

Steven’s Law was passed in 2008, named after Steven Ugol, a Scottsdale boy who suffers from autism and has benefited from Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy.