Highlands Center for Autism

World-class autism care close to home

Highlands Center for Autism is a center-based program in Kentucky exclusively using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a clinical setting. 


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Highlands Center for Autism is located, on the first floor, in a facility adjacent to the Highlands Regional Medical Center campus. The Center operates as a year round day treatment center and accepts children from earliest diagnosis through school age.

The program has a low child to staff ratio (virtually 1:1) and each child’s program is tailored to their needs. Multiple professionals and consultants are involved with each child's program. These individuals may include behavior analysts, clinical psychologists, speech/language pathologists, and behavior technicians. Consultations with pediatrics, nursing, and psychiatry are also utilized. Parents are asked to participate in their child's programming, attend seminars about ABA, work with their children at home, and attend meetings regarding their child’s specific treatment plan.

Philosophy of Treatment and Care

The Highlands Center for Autism team believes that all children deserve the opportunity to laugh and play, and to become healthy, happy and productive adults. Children with autism require specially designed services and support to reach those goals. We strive to meet their needs by:

  • providing accurate, up-to-date information about autism treatment
  • giving children access to research supported treatment and education
  • encouraging parent education and involvement
  • providing on-site diagnostic services in conjuction with University of Kentucky’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Daniel Larrow, to identify symptoms of ASD as early as possible

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science that uses behavioral techniques to teach children basic and complex skills. It works by reinforcing appropriate behavior while decreasing or eliminating challenging behavior. Opportunities for success are built into the program. Adjustments are made as children progress, helping them to function better in the world.

Children enrolled at the Highlands Center for Autism, through participation in ABA, have seen improvements such as:

  • Speaking for the first time
  • Saying "I love you" for the first time
  • Laughing for the first time
  • Eating in a restaurant without behavioral problems
  • Child smiling for photographs
  • Opening Christmas gift and trick-or-treating for the first time

Progress Monitoring

Data is collected daily regarding each child’s progress within their specifically designed program.


Funding Sources for Treatment

Health Insurance

  • KY was the 17th state to enact autism insurance reform on April 14, 2010. The law, known as House Bill 159, requires large group, small group, individual and state employee health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder between the ages of one and twenty-one. The maximum annual benefit for children under the age of 7 is $50,000. For children between the ages of seven and twenty-one, a maximum monthly benefit is $1,000. Specifically, health insurance companies are required to provide coverage of pharmacy care, psychiatric care, psychological and therapeutic care, rehabilitative care, and applied behavioral analysis for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
  • 2014 Advisory Opinion from the Department of Insurance regarding supervisees can be found on the ABA licensing board website www.aba.ky.gov
  • As a courtesy to families interested in receiving services through HCA, we can verify benefits with our billing company and report the outcome to you

Fee Assistance Program

  • The Highlands Foundation established the Changing Lives Funding Project in November 2009. This project raises funds to provide assistance to families in paying for treatment at the Highlands Center for Autism
  • In order to learn more about the fee assistance program, families must tour the center and obtain an application
  • For more information regarding fundraising efforts or to make a contribution visit http://highlandsfoundation.org

Private pay is an additional option for funding services.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

A: Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder, meaning it affects the growth and development of the brain. Autism typically becomes apparent during a child's first three years; often within the first 12 to 18 months.

Q: What causes autism?

A: There is no known cause. Many researchers believe autism is the result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors. However, autism research has increased over the past five years, and recent studies have shown promising links between such things as areas of the brain and autism. For a general overview of autism and theoretical causes, visit About Autism at the Autism Society of America.

Q: What are symptoms of autism?

A: Autism affects brain functioning, which interferes with the normal development of reasoning, behavior, social interaction and communication. Studies have shown that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly better outcomes.

Some signs to look for include:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects

Q: Why is early intervention so important?

A: Early intervention is defined as services delivered to children from birth to age 3, and research shows that it has a dramatic impact on reducing the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Studies in early childhood development have shown that the youngest brains are the most flexible. In autism, we see that intensive early intervention yields a tremendous amount of progress in children by the time they enter kindergarten, often reducing the need for intensive supports.

Q: Are "alternative" treatments such as diets, and vitamins worth looking into?

A: To date, solid research supports behavioral intervention as an effective method improving functioning in individuals with autism. No other treatments have proven effective.

Q: Is there a cure for autism?

A: While there is no cure for autism and children do not "outgrow" it, research indicates that children who participate in ABA programming, especially early on, show significant progress.

Q: I suspect my child has autism. How do I arrange for an evaluation or assessment?

A: Contact Highlands Center for Autism at (606) 889-6115 or highlandsautism@hrmc.org for guidance with this process.

Q: How can I learn more about the services provided at the Highlands Center for Autism?

A: To find out more information about the services provided at our Center call (606) 889-6115 or email highlandsautism@hrmc.org

Q: What will these services cost?

A: The costs of autism treatment vary, but are generally similar to the costs of psychological care. Some services, particularly diagnostic evaluations or clinic-based behavioral therapy, may be covered by health insurance. Check with your health plan for specific coverage policies. Highlands Center for Autism offers financial assistance. For guidelines and an application, call (606) 889-6115 or email highlandsautism@hrmc.org