Pediatric behavioral health startup Brightline has launched a new digital coaching program for parents of autistic children.
The Palo Alto-based company announced Tuesday that it has debuted its autism spectrum disorder (ASD) program to assist families with care tailored for ASD to hopefully improve their children’s lifelong health outcomes and quality of life.
“Brightline is harnessing technology and specialized behavioral health coaching to teach parents scientifically proven skills that can promote their children’s social and communicative development,” said David Grodberg, Brightline’s Chief Psychiatric Officer in a statement this week.
Previously, the company offered pediatric behavioral health services such as support for anxiety, ADHD, or other disruptive disorders. Grodberg told Behavioral Health News earlier this year that the company designed the ASD program because it was the “most commonly requested” service from parents and employers.
The new program, Getting an Early Start on Autism, will aim to help caregivers of young children with autism aged 18 months to 6 years old, per the company’s statement. Caregivers can schedule 1:1 digital coaching sessions for their child with a licensed professional, in addition to accessing exercises and resources for their child in between sessions virtually through Brightline’s platform.
The company hopes the new program will make it easier for families to access ASD resources and receive help soon after their child is diagnosed, as opposed to delaying months or even years trying to find specialists in their area. Brightline hopes that involving parents in their child’s treatment journey at an early age will benefit the child’s development, as some research suggests their involvement does.
The Californian company may be three years old but it’s growing quickly, thanks in part to a blockbuster round of financing: from initially raising $20 million in Series A funding in 2019, to expanding its virtual behavioral health services nationwide in 2021 after closing on a $72 million Series B round of financing. Two weeks ago, Brightline closed on a $105 million Series C round of financing and is now valued at $705 million.
Brightline offers several services, including medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based coaching, and speech and behavioral therapy, per its website. The company notes that not all services are covered by all health insurance plans, but that it’s looking to partner with more health plans.
The main ASD therapy approach which is covered by insurance plans in all 50 states, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), is controversial among autistic communities and some literature reviews have called for more rigorous scientific study into the practice’s outcomes.
Grodberg acknowledged ABA’s outcomes were “not very good” earlier this year and said it’s “still early days” when it comes to measuring and improving the way ABA is used.
Brightline’s Program Development Manager Nonyé Nwosu Kanu said in a statement Tuesday that Brightline’s coaching program and resources have been “carefully crafted” to help families with a range of needs and concerns.
“Families of young children with ASD and at-risk for ASD have needed something like our program for a long time,” said Kanu, who added, “As an ASD family member, I wish a program like this existed for my family.”
Written by Sloane Airey