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State Autism Profiles: Wisconsin

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In 2000, 2,129 or 1.70% of children ages 3-21 who received special education services in Wisconsin have autism. In 2014-2015, 10,825 or 8.99% of children with disabilities ages 3-21 who received special education services in Wisconsin have autism.

Table 1-1: IDEA Part B - Children with Autism in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin for 1999-2000 and 2013-2014
(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 Wisconsin in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs


Governor’s Task Force on Autism
In 2004, Governor Jim Doyle convened a Task Force on Autism to respond to the needs of parents of children with autism. The task force was composed of ten members appointed by the governor and representatives of various state agencies involved with the regulation and administration of services for individuals with autism. Karen Timberlake served as the chair of the task force. The task force met from May 2004 through September 2004, and at its conclusion prepared a final report which identified issues with the current system and support services for individuals with autism and proposed recommendations for improvements.

Autism Advisory Council
In 2005, Governor Doyle established an Autism Advisory Council to advise the Department of Health and Family Services in developing a statewide support system for individuals with autism and addressing key issues outlined in the Task Force on Autism’s final report. The Autism Advisory Council is comprised of 13 members appointed by the governor, who indicated that a majority should be parents of children with autism. Other members are public members, providers, local government officials, or professionals with an interest in autism. The Council continues to meet.


On June 29, 2009, Governor Jim Doyle signed S.B. 3 into law, requiring individual and group health insurance policies and plans, state health care plans, and self-insured plans to provide health insurance coverage for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Treatment must be provided by a psychiatrist, a person practicing psychology, a social worker licensed or certified to practice psychotherapy, a paraprofessional working under the supervision of a provider, or a professional working under the supervision of an outpatient mental health clinic. The legislation does not apply to long-term care, Medicare replacement, or supplement policies. It requires a minimum of $50,000 in coverage annually for intensive services and $25,000 annually for non-intensive services. Wis. Stat. § 632.895(12m) and Wis. Stat. § 609.87(2009); Wis. Laws, Act28

The law was amended in 2010 to add licensed behavior analysts to the list of professionals qualified to provide intensive-level and non-intensive-level services. Wis. Laws, Act 282 (SB 667); Wis. Stat. § 632.895 (12m) (b) 3m


Under the Affordable Care Act, Wisconsin will continue to offer autism services including applied behavior analysis (ABA) on its federally-run exchange. The benchmark plan does not categorize autism services under any of the ten essential health benefits, but is the stand-alone provision of “other.”
(UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company; Choice Plus Definity HSA Plan A92NS)


Autism Services as a Statewide Medicaid Benefit: ForwardHealth
In response to the July 2014 CMS guidance to states on coverage of autism treatment services as a regular statewide Medicaid benefit, the Department of Health Services is transitioning coverage of autism treatment services from the CLTS Waiver Program to a new behavioral treatment benefit under ForwardHealth. ForwardHealth includes BadgerCare Plus, Medicaid, and the Katie Beckett Program. Children currently receiving autism treatment services under the CLTS Waiver Program, children who have been diagnosed and are waiting for autism treatment services, and children who receive health care coverage through BadgerCare Plus, Medicaid, or the Katie Beckett Program and who have a need for behavioral treatment will all be covered. The benefit will be funded as a regular ForwardHealth benefit instead of through the CLTS Waiver Program although the CLTS Waiver Program will continue to provide support services to meet children's assessed needs. When medically necessary, the benefit will be either comprehensive or focused services in evidence-based treatments, including Applied Behavior Analysis and Early Start Denver Model.

Wisconsin Home and Community Based Services: WI Children’s Long-Term Support Developmental Disability Waiver
The Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) Home and Community-Based Waivers, implemented on January 1, 2012, provides an autism benefit for intensive in-home treatment services. The CLTS waiver provides services to children from birth to 21 years of age. Services includes support and service coordination, support home care, respite care, day habilitation, supported employment, home modifications, transportation, adaptive aids, communication aids, specialized medical equipment and supplies, personalized emergency response system, foster care, consumer education and training, consumer and family-directed supports, counseling and therapeutic services, daily living skills, financial management, and in-home autism treatment to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This waiver will expire on December 31, 2016.


Behavior Analyst Board
Wisconsin State Statutes 440.310 et seq. provides for licensure of Behavior Analysts in Wisconsin under the Department of Safety and Professional Services.  and must be certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.


The Wisconsin Legislature is sworn into office in January of each odd-numbered year and meets in continuous session for a period of two years or “biennium.” The 2015-2016 Legislature convened on January 5, 2015 and meet through May 2016. The 2017 session is expected to convene in early January.

Sponsors of Autism Legislation

  • Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) District 8
  • Sen. Robert W. Wirch (D-Kenosha) District 22
  • Rep. Andy E. Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson) District 43
  • Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) District 54

Prepared by Easterseals, Inc.; November 2016.

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