By Nicole Berning, MS, BCBA, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Research shows that early identification and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) results in more favorable outcomes. However, a recent study of ASD in Minnesota found that children were identified at an average of 5 years old.
To encourage early identification and intervention of ASD and related disorders, Minnesota has created the Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) benefit, which provides medically necessary treatment to people under age 21 on state health plans.
A 2014 CDC surveillance study showed 1 in 59 children have ASD
In 2018, 19,386 Minnesota children were identified as eligible for special education services under the autism category.
EIDBI services focus on supports that help people with autism and related conditions interact with others, learn and play, and improve functional communication. In addition, treatment strives to build independence and improve quality of life for the person and their family.
The benefit is fairly new, having passed into law in 2013 and serving the first group of children in January 2016. Any standalone provider can become qualified to perform a comprehensive multi-disciplinary evaluations (CMDE), which determines medical necessity for the EIDBI benefit. A CMDE is not the same as a diagnostic assessment and it may still be necessary for a pediatrician or mental health professional to complete a diagnostic assessment to meet eligibility requirements for other services.
Typically, pediatricians refer children to a mental health professional for the diagnosis of autism after a positive screen. Under this program, however, they can become qualified to complete the diagnosis themselves and eliminate long wait times for children to be seen by mental health professionals.
Currently, there is a shortage of CMDE providers in the state. Most are licensed mental health professionals. None are pediatricians at this point. Minnesota has a total of 18 enrolled EIDBI agencies that provide treatment and 41 CMDE providers.
To become an eligibile CMDE provider, you must be a licensed physician, advanced practice registered nurse or mental health professional who has completed a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical experience in the evaluation and treatment of people with ASD and/or related conditions or equivalent coursework.
Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI)
For more information about the EIDBI benefit or becoming a provider, visit the DHS website at www.mn.gov/dhs/eidbi or contact ASD.DHS@state.mn.us. If you are working with a family that may benefit from EIDBI services, refer them to their local county or tribal agency, DisabililityHubMN.org or Minnesotahelp.info to locate a provider in their area. Use the search feature and key in EIDBI, CMDE or autism services and supports.