If you’ve recently found out that your child has autism spectrum disorder, you probably have a lot of questions. Not the least of which is what therapeutic options and resources are available to help them live their best life.
The good news is that today there are more resources for children with ASD and proven therapy techniques than ever before. Of them, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is recognized as the gold standard for helping children with ASD to achieve their highest outcomes.
ABA therapy is recognized as a science-backed discipline of behavioral psychology that systematically encourage desired outcomes while reducing negative behaviors. The cost of ABA therapy can vary depending on a wide range of factors.
This article was designed to help guide you through the financial implications of ABA therapy as well as what to be mindful of when looking for quality ABA therapy services for your child.
How Does ABA Therapy Work?
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is an evidence-based treatment method for children with autism spectrum disorder that uses a data-driven approach to focus on each child’s unique needs. As the “Gold Standard” for autism therapy, it’s an intensive intervention that is based on a comprehensive assessment of the child’s current functioning, abilities, and needs. This approach includes identifying measurable treatment goals to help each child live a more independent and fulfilling life.
ABA therapy is typically offered in a one-to-one setting and is overseen by a BCBA (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst) who will complete thorough assessments of a child’s functioning and skills. The BCBA will use this dearth of information to develop a clinical treatment plan that incorporates all aspects of the child’s therapy team.
A Behavior Therapist (BT) or Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) will then implement the treatment plan to simultaneously reduce the child’s problematic behaviors while teaching them new skills and positive behaviors. Though it’s data-driven, measurable approach ABA therapy can be used to address a wide range of things including the improvement of communication skills, social skills, independence and self-care skills, daily living skills, and toilet training. It can even help your child to develop better sleep habits and other measurable outcomes.
Factors That Affect the Cost of ABA Therapy
Since the severity of symptoms in autism spectrum disorder can vary from one person to the next, the cost of ABA therapy can vary based on a wide range of factors. This includes things like the number of hours of ABA intervention that a child receives in a given period, applicable benefits from commercial health insurance, and the availability to pay out-of-pocket expenses.
A lot of private insurance companies will cover ABA therapy to some degree as they are technically considered medically necessary. At the same time, some State-funded health insurance plans cover the full amount of ABA therapy. This means that if a particular insurance policy doesn’t cover this health benefit, the parents can reach out to an ABA provider to find a manageable payment plan or other finance options.
Funding Options for ABA Therapy
There are several options and funding resources that parents might be able to utilize in addition to a child’s health insurance, to help cover a portion of ABA therapy services.
State funding is a popular option for families who qualify for the benefit criteria. Though different states have different health insurance options that cover a majority of therapy services that are deemed to be “Medically Necessary” for the child.
A lot of parents also find there are some scholarships available that are specifically designed to help the family of a child with an autism spectrum disorder.
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy services can be provided in the patient’s home or in a center setting. A child with ASD who attends a center is given the opportunity to learn in a fun and welcoming environment.
In these ABA centers, the child will interact with other children to help further support their development and give them the chance to work on their social and communication skills. This includes things like:
- Practice playing with other children
- Learning to take turns
- Having conversations
- Developing key communication skills
- Friendship building skills
When a child with ASD attends an ABA center they get to practice important life skill routines as they would experience in a real school setting. This can help the child develop the necessary skills to be more successful in school and more independent in life.
At the same time, the child will likely also have many new, enjoyable and helpful experiences, simply by carrying out new tasks and activities in a controlled, comfortable environment.
One of the other big advantages of attending an ABA center is that your child with ASD will receive more oversight from a BCBA. This translates into a higher level of direct support to boost their progress on treatment goals. While home-based services can be a great option and certainly have their benefits, attending an ABA center has many advantages that can be helpful for children.
Tips for Finding the Right ABA Therapist
Finding the right ABA therapist for your child is a critical part of their therapeutic success. This includes asking and answering some of the following questions.
- Does the ABA therapist have experience working with children with similar behaviors or learning concerns?
- Does the ABA service provider include parent and family training services?
- Does the ABA provider have a streamlined enrollment process?
Questions To Ask a Prospective ABA Provider
You might want to also ask the ABA provider some of the following questions:
- Will there be a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) on staff who will be assigned to the child’s case?
- How involved with the BCBA?
- How much access will the parents have to communicate with the BCBA?
- Can you provide an example of what a typical ABA session will be like for my child?
- How will the care team handle challenging behavior?
- What are the health & safety protocols?
- What data collection methods will be used?
Availability of ABA Therapy Funding Resources
The good news is that there are more funding options for ABA therapy and support therapies than ever before. This includes things like commercial insurance as well as state-funded services and scholarships. Your child’s ABA therapist can help you understand the best funding options to meet your child’s needs and support the family in the therapeutic process of helping them reach their best possible outcomes.