Autism Care Demonstration

The TRICARE Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration (ACD) covers applied behavior analysis (ABA) services. Under the ACD, ABA services are authorized to target the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The ACD began on July 25, 2014. It is currently authorized to run through Dec. 31, 2028.

Does your child qualify for the ACD?

To qualify for the ACD, your child must be:

  • Enrolled in a TRICARE health plan.
  • Diagnosed with ASD by an approved provider.

Are you an active duty service member (ADSM)?

ADSMs with a child diagnosed with ASD must enroll in your service branch’s Exceptional Family Member Program. Your child must also enroll in the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).

Is ACD available overseas?

Yes. However, it’s only available in very few locations overseas. ABA services overseas are only authorized for the sole provider model. Tiered ABA services aren’t authorized overseas, except in U.S. territories. Please contact your regional call center when seeking ABA services. They’ll walk you through the process.

How the ACD Works

Follow the steps below to get started.

Step 1: Get Diagnosed

Your child must be diagnosed by an approved diagnosing provider, which includes either:

A Primary Care Physician in the following specialtiesA branch of medicine or surgery that a doctor specializes in.:
  • Family practice
  • Pediatrics
  • Pediatrics nurse practitioners

Board certified or board eligible physicians in the following disciplines:

  • Licensed clinical psychology, doctoral level
  • Doctors of Nursing Practice, meeting certain criteria
  • Developmental behavioral pediatrics
  • Neurodevelopmental pediatrics
  • Pediatric neurology
  • Adult or child psychiatry

Step 2: Get a Referral and Pre-Authorization

  • Your child must get a referral to the ACD and a pre-authorization for all ABA services. All TRICARE plans require this.
  • Your child’s diagnosing provider will submit a referral to your regional contractor* or US Family Health Plan (USFHP) provider for authorization.
  • Your child will get an authorization letter for six months of ABA services.
    • A new referral from your ASD diagnosing provider is required every two years.

Are you requesting ABA services for the first time?

  • You’ll get an authorization letter for your child from your regional contractor or USFHP provider. This authorization covers your child’s ABA assessment.
  • Your provider will complete your child’s ABA assessment. Then, your provider will develop your child’s treatment plan.
  • You’ll get an authorization letter for six months of ABA services. Your child’s provider will request reauthorization every six months.

*ABA services are only available in locations with board certified behavior analysts.

Step 3: Complete Outcome Measures

  • You and your child’s provider team must complete four baseline outcome measures before your child can get ABA services. This will help monitor your child’s progress. The four measures are the:
    • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Behavior Inventory
    • Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales
    • Social Responsiveness Scale
    • Parent Stress Index or Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents
  • You must complete the four outcome measures every six months or every 12 months. The frequency depends on the measure.

Step 4: Schedule an Appointment

When you get your child’s authorization letter:

Your authorized ABA supervisor:

  • Oversees your child’s ABA treatment program.
  • Helps you to develop goals. These goals are for your participation in your child’s ABA treatment plan.
  • Updates your child’s treatment plan. This will be done before your child’s next authorization period.

Step 5: Work with your Autism Services Navigator (ASN)

TRICARE will assign your child an ASN. Your child will only get an ASN if you’re new to the ACD. Your child’s ASN acts as the primary care coordinator.

You and your child’s ASN will develop your child’s comprehensive care plan (CCP). Your child’s CCP will:

  • Set goals.
  • Track timelines. These timelines include for both outcome measures and authorization dates.
  • Connect you with:
    • Clinical resources
    • Non-clinical resources
  • Provide discharge, moving, or transition support.

Note: You won’t have an ASN if you’re enrolled in the USFHP or if you live overseas.

Last Updated 7/14/2022