Applied Behavior Analysis, when done correctly and consistently, has been proven to work. How much progress a child with autism makes, however, depends on a number of factors, including their age, the amount of therapy they receive and the quality of that therapy.
There also are some misconceptions about ABA therapy that trap parents, according to Daniel Blank of the ABA Preschool Academy.
It is not one-size-fits-all. It must be individualized to meet the behavioral needs of each child. Parents should look for a program that is data driven, they should meet monthly with their providers and expect a printed report that shows them exactly what’s been worked on, what’s been mastered and what new things will be introduced. The data will show parents their child’s progress.
Because there are so many locations offering ABA therapy, parents should avoid those with a revolving door of therapists.
It should always be positive. ABA is built on positive reinforcement of desired behavior. The therapy should never include punishment, such as a timeout.
Everyone has access. When Autism Speaks fought with insurance companies to cover autism, it had ABA therapy in mind. In some cases, it can cost $20,000 to $75,000 per year. Still, before the Affordable Care Act, it was still difficult to make sure you had insurance to cover the therapy costs. After the Affordable Care Act, families can now find affordable insurance through health care exchanges that cover ABA without a yearly cap. Blank says he likes helping families, particularly low-income families, find the coverage to get kids the therapy they need.
It’s intensive. Studies have shown that kids involved in intensive ABA therapy make greater strides in more areas than those in less intensive programs. Blank says that unlike other therapies that can be done a few hours a week, ABA has to be made a priority, with the recommended amount closer to 20-40 hours a week. “That’s why a school model makes more sense,” he says. In addition, studies have shown that the earlier kids start with intensive therapy, the better the hope that they enter regular-setting classrooms with little or even no assistance.