LEARN Behavioral, which is the network of providers serving children with autism and other special needs, is teaming up with digital behavioral health company Cognoa to improve the timeliness of care and give more children the greatest opportunity for improved outcomes. Cognoa's solution will be deployed in nine regions within the LEARN network, including several through Autism Spectrum Therapies (AST), LEARN's largest provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment. In total, LEARN serves more than 4,000 families annually across the country.
Prospective LEARN clients now have access to Cognoa's Child Development app, enabling them to take a clinically validated assessment to determine their child's risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents can then share this information with LEARN's clinical team and with their pediatrician, as necessary, to expedite a diagnosis so that children can receive the appropriate ABA therapy services earlier, when they can have the greatest impact.
The prevalence of ASD has increased by 15 percent over the past 6 years with an estimated one in every 59 children affected. However, the average age of diagnosis has remained relatively unchanged in over 15 years, at over four years old (according to Baio, et. al.). This falls after the primary window of brain plasticity when interventions can have the greatest impact for lifelong gains. Cognoa is clinically validated to identify signs of autism in children as early as 18 months old.
"Delays in getting an autism diagnosis mean that most children are missing out on early intervention," Justin Funches, President of Autism Services for LEARN Behavioral, said in a statement. "While many children are impacted by developmental delays, access to timely diagnosis can be difficult, complicated, and too expensive. Today, we have the opportunity to empower more parents with state-of the-art resources to identify children with delays and provide earlier treatment with our professional teams to improve outcomes. We are proud to partner with Cognoa to offer families critical access to these solutions."
An autism diagnosis is often necessary for children to receive the appropriate behavioral therapies that can help the most. Many parents experience waitlists of a year or more before their children can be diagnosed and treated. Parents have reported visiting, on average, four to five clinicians on the way to getting an autism diagnosis.
LEARN is also working with Cognoa to refine its treatment protocols for greater personalization and effectiveness. Through Cognoa and LEARN, parents also have access to evidence-based activities to do with their children at home to support their therapy and encourage greater progress.
"The combination of an easily accessible, app-based child assessment and support, along with earlier therapy for more children, can improve the lives of children and families while lowering healthcare costs and reducing current inefficiencies," added Brent Vaughan, CEO of Cognoa.