The Benefits of Center-Based ABA Therapy for Children with Autism

ABA Therapy

  1. What is the evidence that center-based ABA therapy is effective?

Center-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy has been the subject of increasing discussion over the past few years. More specifically, the location of the ABA therapy program can have a more significant impact on behavior than home-based programs. 

Some studies have found that participants learned significantly more in center-based ABA therapy as opposed to more familiar settings. A 2017 study by researchers familiar with ABA therapy specifically as it relates to autism indicates that participants who received both center-based and home-based APA (CBS and HBS, respectively) experienced a 100% learning-per-hour increase when receiving treatment at centers. 

2. How does center-based ABA therapy compare to other types of autism therapies?

When compared to other types of autism therapy such as relationship development intervention (RDI) and sensory integration, ABA focuses on a broad range of skills and meets more general needs. This is not a downside – far from it. 

Center-based ABA therapy is used to teach a number of developmental skills in consistent sessions, including verbal, motor, and social behaviors. RDI is focused more closely on flexible thinking in social situations, with the ultimate goal of fostering close relationships, be they in school, in families, or even with the patient’s own parent. 

Similarly, sensory integration therapy centers around the sensory disorders common in patients living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These therapy programs consist of professionals safely introducing patients to new stimuli such as touch, noise, and lights. 

3. What are the costs associated with center-based ABA therapy?

ABA therapy sessions are not necessarily more expensive than other types of therapy, but they certainly aren’t less expensive, either. ABA services can cost anywhere from $4,800 to $20,000 or more a month. These numbers apply to individuals without insurance, however, and therapy services can be less expensive with a private insurance plan.

4. How often is center-based ABA therapy typically provided?

For proper skill acquisition and optimal progress, patients experience anywhere from 10 to 30 hours of center-based ABA therapy every week. This number is calculated after a consultation, at which point the caregivers have a chance to review patient data, assessment results, and the parent interview to find the best number of hours for the specific child in question. 

5. What is the typical length of time that a child receives center-based ABA therapy?

Center based ABA Therapy

While the exact length of center-based ABA care differs from patient to patient, sessions usually last from two to five hours. Clinicians might change session length as they become more accustomed to your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and limits.

6. What are the qualifications of the therapists who provide center-based ABA therapy?

The therapists who provide center-based ABA therapy are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). Applicants must meet a few requirements to qualify for a BCBA certificate. 

Applicants must hold at least one graduate degree in a field related to ABA. They must complete a variety of relevant coursework, the specifics of which differ slightly from educational organization to educational organization, and then fulfill hands-on, supervised requirements. This requirement focuses on developing skills important to successful ABA, including communication, both with a team and with a patient, along with tips to make ABA fun for patients (depending on their age).

Once all of the above has been completed, applicants must pass a BCBA exam. 

7. What are the side effects of center-based ABA therapy?

While center-based ABA therapy is one of the most common and effective forms of therapy for ASD, there are some concerns about the impact it might have on patients. Some advocates say that long-term ABA therapy might lead to increased levels of stress or even depression. 

While there has yet to be a widely accepted response to these claims, the details matter. Not everyone learns or struggles in the same areas. It is important that staff approach every student open to altering their plans. One model that works for Student A might not work for Student B.

8. What are the risks associated with center-based ABA therapy?

The risks associated with center-based ABA therapy are related to the information in question seven. Some students thrive under the supervision that ABA requires. For these students, the risks seem low. Outcomes might be better for students who begin therapy early rather than as late teens or adults.

Other students don’t do well with the supervision or the community often fostered in ABA clinics. These students might find more success with a process based in a familiar environment and around family. Otherwise, risks can include depression and anxiety.

9. What are the benefits of center-based ABA therapy?

Center-based ABA therapy boasts a number of benefits. Students who thrive while receiving intensive therapy often find that communication is easier for them, with speech and thoughts alike feeling more “naturalistic.” These individuals often have greater success in social situations than individuals who did not receive ABA therapy.

10. Is center-based ABA therapy the right therapy for my child?

Center-based ABA therapy is the right choice for many parents. The opportunities for growth cannot be ignored. If your child is living with ADS or a related disorder, ABA therapy might be the best choice for a brighter future.

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