ABA Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions
While ABA therapy can benefit many different individuals with a variety of diagnoses, for insurance to pay for ABA therapy services, most insurance plans do require that an individual has an autism diagnosis.
ABA therapy programs at Lighthouse Autism Center are full-time or part-time programs. This is based on the recommendation of the clinical team following an assessment of each child’s unique needs. A part-time program is 20 hours per week and can be mornings or afternoons. A full-time program is 40 hours per week and does replace school for a child. For more information on these programs, please contact our Family Outreach Coordinator.
A full-time program allows for a more thorough approach to therapy for the child. By enrolling them in a full-time program they are receiving the maximum amount of therapy they can. This is often recommended for young children with a focus on early intervention. If a child is enrolled in a full-time program at a young age, they significantly increase success in leading a more independent life.
Center-based ABA therapy is when the therapy sessions take place inside an autism treatment center (as opposed to in another setting such as the home or community). Center-based therapy offers more consistency and more learning opportunities as well as opportunities to prompt different learning opportunities. This environment ultimately leads to better outcomes for children with autism.
Every learner is different and requires different support, settings, and therapy or educational plans. A school setting is well equipped to help children acquire academic skills. However, when a child has difficulties in a traditional school setting, or other skills or behaviors they need to refine or gain in order to support their academic learning, an ABA center is best positioned to support that child’s success. Center-based ABA therapy is the foundation needed for many autistic children to give them the skills to learn so they can transition back to a school setting where they can focus on academic skills.
While every child is different, most children will begin to see improvements beginning their first week of therapy. It’s important to remember that ABA therapy involves taking large goals and breaking them into very small, measurable, and attainable goals for your child. These small goals will build on each other until they culminate in the achievement of a larger goal.
At Lighthouse Autism Center, children typically attend a center for 1-2 years before transitioning back to school.
Once a family turns in the appropriate enrollment documents & there is an available position at your chosen center, an assessment is scheduled with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), a highly trained clinician with a master’s degree in ABA therapy. The BCBA performs a detailed assessment with the child, develops a customized treatment plan, and provides the family with clinical recommendations. Following the recommendations, families have the opportunity to decide to enroll their child at Lighthouse Autism Center.
ABA therapy is a therapy typically covered by most insurance plans. To learn more about ABA therapy and insurance requirements (links to insurance page), contact Lighthouse Autism Center’s Insurance Team. The Insurance Team can answer questions like what insurance companies cover ABA therapy, what kind of paperwork is required to submit to insurance, what is my out-of-pocket cost, and more.
Increasingly we are hearing those in the autism community talk about “good ABA” and “bad ABA.” This stems from a movement by some in the autism community against ABA services, due to their experience with “bad ABA.” It’s important that caregivers educate themselves on what “good ABA” looks like and what they should look for in an ABA therapy program to make sure their loved one with autism is accessing high quality therapy.
- So what does good ABA look like? There are several factors you should look for in a high quality ABA therapy program:
- Multidisciplinary team – a team of clinicians who are experts in their fields all collaborating on goal development and therapy for your child.
- Natural Environment Teaching (NET) – this is a theory of teaching where the learner acquires skills through their natural environment and based on their interests. Think of a child learning how to count fruits and vegetables in a pretend play-space vs. sitting at a table with flash cards. The child is much more likely to be motivated and enjoy what they are learning in a natural play-based environment instead of running trials at a table space.
- Family Involvement – the parents and/or caregivers in a child’s life should be heavily involved in not only the goal setting for that child but also in carrying what a child learns at a center into the home. It’s a critical part of the generalization of skills and making sure that a child is setup for long-term success.