A state-funded Los Angeles treatment center will continue to offer an autism therapy some consider experimental — perhaps providing it to more children than ever before — under a preliminary court settlement.

Last year, the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center stopped offering a therapy known as “DIR” or Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based treatment after a change in California law barred state-funded centers from using “experimental treatments.” But a group of families sued arguing that the method is the only one that works for their children.

Now under a preliminary settlement expected to be finalized in September, the center will be required to offer DIR to anyone they serve with an autism diagnosis — whether or not they previously received the treatment.

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DIR is the basis for a technique called Floortime, whereby therapists follow a child’s lead to encourage socialization through play. Though the method has been used for years, little clinical research exists to support its efficacy as compared to some other therapy approaches.

The Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, which provides state-funded autism therapy to children living in certain Los Angeles neighborhoods, is believed to be the only facility in California to discontinue DIR as a result of the change in state law.

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