Understanding ABA Therapy
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is an important treatment option for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With a wide range of symptoms, disabilities, and strengths, children with ASD have the potential to learn critical life skills, but only if they have help from experienced professional therapists. ABA therapy is the solution. This kind of therapy builds an individualized program designed by a provider experienced in ASD treatments and behavior therapies.
More specifically, ABA therapy is designed to help patients acquire important social skills as well as additional skills important to independent living. This is done primarily via positive reinforcement and calculated interventions with the goal of encouraging desirable behaviors and discouraging undesirable behaviors. What does this process look like, and is it the right choice for your child? Let’s take a closer look.
Determining if ABA Therapy is Right for You
ABA therapy is a great way to teach children with ASD and other difficulties effective communication skills and emotional regulation. The sustained development of these skills and behaviors can set your child up for future success and independence. While the extent of this progress depends on your child’s unique challenges, ABA therapy is a series of evidence-based strategies designed to provide unique support for superior results. Sessions are often done on a one-by-one basis to ensure a learning experience tailored to the patient in question, although group sessions are also available in some clinics.
Is ABA therapy right for you? If you are hoping to help your child make changes in their behavior and give them the ability to explore more independent living, you might find the expense well worth it. Experienced ABA therapists can also help caregivers develop the skill set needed to better parent their children or clients. If any of that sounds familiar, you might find this kind of therapy to be very beneficial.
Exploring Different Types of ABA Therapy
ABA therapy is a highly-individualized treatment option tailored to your child’s unique needs and challenges. There are many different kinds of ABA therapy your child might experience:
- Positive reinforcement
- Natural environment teaching
- Discrete trial training
- Errorless learning
- Task analysis
- Reinforcement schedules
Your ABA professional will be able to explain the specific approaches they are using with your child as well as their reasoning behind employing them.
Finding an ABA Therapist
There are many resources to help you find the best ABA therapists for your child’s needs. Your first stop should be your child’s school system, assuming they are in school. In the US, schools sometimes have information about help for students with ASD in the community, including sources for therapy services, contact information for ABA-focused organizations, and even contact lists of experts in the field.
You can also do your own research when looking for an ABA therapist. Look for reputable agencies with licensed therapists and happy clients.
Who is paying for the ABA therapy?
ABA therapy is an incredible tool for individuals with autism as well as those who love them, but it is not always a cheap solution. Depending on where your child receives help and in what context, you might be responsible for covering their ABA therapy costs.
In certain school districts, ABA therapists are stationed in schools to provide autism treatment to kids in need. In this situation, you might not have to pay for your child’s therapy costs. You can speak with your child’s teachers for more information about the district’s resources. You might also be able to find programs tied to your child’s school that can help you cover any costs related to ABA therapy, even if you are on the hook for the bill. Do a bit of research into any potential scholarships, grants, or additional funding.
If you are seeking ABA therapy outside of your school district, you will likely be required to pay the bills, although there is always the chance that your insurance company will cover at least some of the costs.
How much does ABA therapy cost?
ABA therapy can be a game changer for your family, but there are therapy costs to keep in mind. Clients paying out-of-pocket often pay an average of $120 per hour for their child’s services. Multiply this by the recommended therapy hours per week, which can range from 10 to 40, and you can see how pricey ABA can be.
The good news is that there might be financial support available to help you secure treatment for your child without draining your savings.
Is ABA therapy covered by insurance?
The good news is that your child’s ABA therapy might be covered under your insurance plan. This coverage varies from state to state, and not all insurance plans will cover it, so it is important to do some research on how your state handles autism treatment. In some states, access to affordable ABA therapy is considered a state right, typically with annual and lifetime coverage limits. In others, ABA therapy might not be covered at all.
If you are looking to fund your child’s care, your first step should be to contact your provider. Some insurance companies will cover ABA outright, while others might require you to pay out-of-pocket at first and reimburse you later. Reach out to your policy holder with any questions you have and any needs you need to be addressed.
Whether your insurer requires you to pay upfront or not, you will need an official diagnosis to receive coverage for your child’s ABA autism treatment.
What are the costs associated with ABA therapy?
There are a variety of costs associated with ABA therapy. The upfront cost goes to the therapists themselves, of course, as professionals must be paid a fair rate for their time. Other costs include travel to and from the center or therapist’s office, and students who will be staying for several hours of lessons will likely need food or pocket money for snacks. Not all individuals will require extra while learning, of course, and this might vary depending on the ages of the students in question, too.
Understanding Insurance Coverage for ABA Therapy
Your health insurance provider should clearly outline their ABA therapy visit rates and coverage options, but there are a few extra things to keep in mind. First, make sure to check out the number of service sessions covered. Some providers will limit the number of visits they cover by week, month, or year. You should also ask about the duration of ABA therapy coverage. Some providers might require annual reauthorization, while others will outright cover care up to a certain annual and lifetime amount or for a specific age range.
Exploring Different Payment Options for ABA Therapy
There are a few payment options for ABA therapy. A self-funded plan means that you will pay for your child’s care directly. There are some payment resources that can help make this more bearable, such as government assistance programs and even public fundraisers created expressly to help provide financial assistance to families in need. Private loans are another option, although not as ideal as other options.
Fully-insured plans mean that an insurance company or other policy holder will pay for ABA therapy, but they get to set limits on how much they pay, which therapists they will accept, and how long they will continue paying for care.
Ultimately, if you are struggling with the cost of your child’s ABA therapy and have no room in your budget for yet another expense, look for local programs in your area that will help you secure safe and effective care at an affordable price.
Understanding Tax Benefits for ABA Therapy
Tax benefits for ABA therapy are typically covered under medical deductions. Note that you will likely need to have primary custody of your child, and they cannot be claimed on anyone else’s tax return.