Is ABA Therapy Really Expensive?

5 min read

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a common therapy that aims to improve social, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement.

People argue about ABA therapy Chicago being rather expensive, but due to its prominent benefits, it is worth it.

Cost of ABA Therapy

The reason why ABA therapy is expensive is that it is administered by highly trained professionals, and requires rapidly changing supplies and materials. Moreover, the funding sources have not caught up to the diagnosis rates. In addition, every ABA therapy program is individualized for each child. This takes time, effort, and expertise, and only highly trained professionals are able to do this.

The cost of an ABA therapy in Chicago varies based on each child’s therapy needs, the type of ABA program they choose and which is most suitable for them, and who provides the therapy. Moreover, ABA programs that provide more services end up costing more. The costs of ABA therapy can also vary somewhat from state to state, the cost of living in the area as well as the provider’s education and experience.

Usually, one hour of ABA therapy in Chicago from a board-certified ABA therapist costs approximately  $120. There are ABA therapists who are not board-certified and will provide treatment to their clients at lower rates. However, it is recommended to opt for a certified ABA therapist or a team that is supervised by a certified therapist, for better and prolonged results.

Several experts recommend up to 40 hours of ABA therapy in a week, however, therapists most commonly work with clients for 10 to 20 hours per week. This range depends on each client’s needs.

Let’s assume your child needs an average of 10 hours of ABA therapy in a single week at a rate of $120 per hour,  the treatment would end up costing $1,200 per week. Numerous children start showing improvements after a few months, but as each child is different, ABA therapy can last up to three years.

Why Is ABA Therapy Worth it?

If you are questioning the effectiveness and worth of ABA therapy, let the evidence speak for itself. In 1987, the grandfather of Assisted Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, Dr. Ivar Lovaas showed that early intervention and intensive behavioral therapy helped children with Autism to achieve success. He stated that 90% of the children made substantial gains through ABA therapy.

Since then, ABA therapy is considered a gold standard in treating disruptive behaviors including tantrums, assertiveness, aggression, inappropriate self-stimulatory behavior, and even self-injury. Moreover, ABA therapy has been seen to be effective at increasing the social skills that many children with Autism find challenging such as social interactions, communication, play, and self-help skills. Moreover, the great advantage of the ABA approach is that it breaks down larger skills into small manageable steps. 

Thus, by using the power of reinforcement, every child is able to master each of those steps. ABA therapists constantly work with your child, and data is collected throughout each session. This continuous monitoring and evaluation allows the ABA therapy team to see what approaches are working well with your child and what others aren’t, thereby prompting them to make changes to ensure continued success. Hence, the power of ABA therapy lies in its evidence-based results.

In the past 40 years, ABA therapy has proven to help children with autism learn new behaviors. From better social skills to increased intellectual abilities, this therapy can help children adjust to normal life and carry out normal daily activities. 

Empirical studies have shown that ABA therapy helps boost the child’s intellectual aptitude. Moreover, children are able to develop social and emotional skills that match their peers. Children are also more likely to remain in school when they receive ABA therapy, and also perform better in school. Furthermore, through this therapy, parents can also learn the same techniques to learn at home. 

Soon after therapy begins, many parents notice a positive impact on their child. They notice less aggression and frustration and will notice better communication skills. Problematic behaviors start to fade away as soon as the therapy initiates.

The Association for Science in Autism (ASAT) stated that as ABA therapy has substantially more scientific support than any other behavioral intervention for children with disorders like autism, it is recommended that families and professionals should strongly consider implementing ABA practices and be rather cautious about other approaches. Moreover, ASAT further stated that professionals describe other behavioral interventions as untested.

In a report by St. John Fisher College, researchers have pointed out the long-term benefits of intervening early for children with autism and other related disorders. With early ABA therapy, children will be able to attain faster recovery rates. Moreover, they also improve in areas like imitation, matching, expressive language, and receptive language. Children will also achieve better results on IQ tests after an intervention.

Thus, when considering the high costs of ABA therapy, it is important to keep the benefit of it in the long run. Investing in ABA therapy for your child now may save your family a significant amount of money down the line. 

The ultimate goal and objective of ABA therapy are to improve a child’s functioning, and some children may eventually be able to take care of themselves as adults. Early interventions also ensure that each child is able to live their life to the fullest. Children who are unable to do this will have to pay for long-term care- which will cost far more.

How You Can Manage ABA Therapy Expenses?

ABA Therapy is surely expensive, but it is important to know that you don’t have to end up paying for the entire cost out of pocket. Financial means should not be a barrier to receiving the best treatment. This is why there are several options that will help lighten the financial burden on you:

Insurance: Several health insurance plans will cover at least part of the cost, which will help reduce the cost of the therapy for you.

Schools: There are numerous schools that will fund ABA for a child, after doing their own evaluation first. 

Financial assistance: Most ABA therapy centers offer scholarships or other forms of financial assistance so that every child is able to take part in therapies. Therefore, with the costs of an ABA therapy on one hand, and its benefits on the other, it is easy to say that the treatment will overall be worth it. One must not compromise quality, as well as health and well-being.

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