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State Autism Profiles: Kentucky

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In 2000, 1,032 or 1.09% of children ages 3-21 who received special education services in Kentucky have autism. In 2014-2015, 5,793 or 5.92% of children with disabilities ages 3-21 who received special education services have autism.

Table 1-1: IDEA Part B - Children with Autism in Kentucky for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of Kentucky in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

Table 1-2: IDEA Part B - Children with Disabilities in Kentucky for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-11



Age 12-17



Age 18-21



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of Kentucky in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs


Kentucky Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders
The Kentucky Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders was established by H.B. 296, which was signed into law by Governor Ernie Fletcher in 2005. The commission met for a year to review and assess the training, treatment, and services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The commission prepared a state plan with recommendations to the Governor, the Kentucky Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the Legislative Research Commission on October 1, 2006, and the commission dissolved on October 1, 2007. Rep. Scott W. Brinkman (R-Louisville) served as the chair. Upon dissolution of the commission, a subcommittee was appointed by the Kentucky Council on Developmental Disabilities to monitor the implementation of the state plan. The subcommittee, under H.B. 296, prepares a report every two years on the status of the state plan to the Governor and Legislative Research Commission until 2015. The Commission has been sunsetted.

The Office of Autism housed at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville was established within the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to: create a centralized location to coordinate statewide and regional efforts to enhance the quality of life and independence to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and to support their families and caregivers; improve coordination of autism resources within the system of care supporting children and adults with autism and help make those resources available to families and self-advocates; be the center of a communication network sharing autism-related information among state agencies, and provide administrative support to the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders to unify and promote initiatives aimed at improving Kentucky’s system of care. The Office of Autism provides an annual report to the Governor.

Kentucky Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders    
In November 2013, the governor's office issued an executive order establishing the KY Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders. A second executive order in July 2014 amended the original order and broadened membership of the committee. Current committee members are professionals, parents and individuals with autism. The committee meets quarterly and meetings are open to the public.

During the 2016 legislative session, H.B. 185 was passed and signed by the Governor deleting the requirement that the Developmental Disabilities Council appoint a subcommittee to monitor the autism state plan. The new law created the Kentucky Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders and confirmed the governor’s executive orders from 2013 and 2014 referenced above. The law also created an Office of Autism in state government.


On April 14, 2010, Governor Beshear signed into law H.B. 159, autism insurance legislation. The law requires large group, small group, individual and state employee health plans to cover and the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder between the ages of one and twenty-one. . The maximum annual benefit for people between the ages of one and six is $50,000. For people between seven and twenty-one, a maximum monthly benefit is $1,000. Additionally, health insurance companies are required to provide coverage of habilitative/rehabilitative care, pharmacy care, psychiatric care, psychological care and therapeutic care, applied behavior analysis, and rehabilitative and habilitative care.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 319C (2010 Ky. Acts, Chap. 150; H.B. 159 of 2010)

In May 2012, a state order was issued directing insurers to start covering applied behavior analysis (ABA) services provided by “supervisees.” The Kentucky Department of Insurance issued an advisory opinion in order to direct health insurers to cover services provided by supervised ABA providers, saying that autism treatment in the state would be “severely compromised” without such coverage. The advisory opinion clarified the interpretation of the autism insurance coverage law passed in 2010.

In the 2016 legislative session, the legislature passed and the Governor signed H.B. 100 requiring that health benefit plans that provide benefits for autism spectrum disorders treatment provide a liaison to the insured to facilitate communication between the insured and the insurer.


Under the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky will offer autism services including applied behavior analysis (ABA) on its state-run exchange. Kentucky has not categorized ABA or any of its autism services in an Essential Health Benefits category. Kentucky is running its own exchange.
(Anthem Health Plans of KY (Anthem BCBS); PPO)


The Kentucky Department of Education developed a training manual, the “Technical Assistance Manual on Autism for Kentucky Schools,” for instructors of students with autism. The manual provides an overview of autism spectrum disorders and the support systems that instructors, staff, and school administrators may offer to students with autism, including the development of the student’s individualized education plan. Legislation has been proposed that includes a requirement for the Kentucky Department of Education to update the manual. The legislation has not passed.

Applied Behavioral Analyst Licensing Board
The purpose of the Kentucky Applied Behavior Analyst Licensing Board is to administer and enforce the statutory authority and to monitor the needs of the consuming public. The board examines and licenses all eligible candidates for entry into the profession as an applied behavior analyst. It recommends appropriate changes in the law to assure fairness and equality. The board conducts formal hearings when necessary and prosecutes by due process any violators of KRS 319C.010 to 319C.990.


Kentucky Autism Training Center
The Kentucky Autism Training Center (KATC) was created under legislation that was signed into law in 1996 to provide resources, information, training and technical assistance to individuals with autism and their families, service providers, and educators. KATC is administered by the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development in partnership with the Department of Special Education and Bingham Child Guidance Center. KATC also sponsors an annual autism institute.


The Kentucky legislature convenes in regular session on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January for 60 days in even-numbered years and for 30 days in odd-numbered years. The Kentucky Constitution mandates that a regular session be completed no later than April 15 in even-numbered years and March 30 in odd-numbered years. The 2016 session convened in Regular Session on January 5, 2016 and adjourned on April 15, 2016. The 2017 session is expected to convene on January 3, 2017 and adjourn in late March of that year.

Sponsors of Autism Legislation

  • Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D-Fayette) District 4
  • Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) District 17
  • Sen. Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville) District 22
  • Sen. Ray S. Jones II (D-Pikeville) District 31
  • Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D-Louisville) District 35
  • Rep. Thomas J. Burch (D-Louisville) District 30
  • Rep. Joseph M. Fischer (R-Ft. Thomas) District 68
  • Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Fayette) District 79

Prepared by Easterseals, Inc.; November 2016.

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