How Long Will My Child Need to Be in Cleveland ABA Therapy?
No two children on the autism spectrum are the same, In turn, the methods, intensity, and duration of the Cleveland ABA therapy they receive will be specifically tailored to the individual. That said, we know many parents want to know – at least roughly – how long their child is going to need therapy. Rather than outline a set number of hours or months or years, we point to specific goal posts – the biggest being an indicator of their functional ability and independence in everyday tasks.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is recognized as an effective treatment for kids on the autism spectrum, and sometimes those with other conditions like ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Down syndrome, etc.
Most kids with autism will start ABA therapy sometime between the ages of 2 and 6 – with doctors and Cleveland ABA therapy providers agreeing that the earlier we start, the better. But as for how long it’s going to last, there is no magic number. What we can say unequivocally is that both intensity and duration (i.e., “the dosage”) of therapy are significant predictors of how well kids master their learning objectives.
This is well-established, but just as an example, a study published in 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Translational Psychiatry examined the effectiveness of ABA therapy in varying durations for nearly 1,500 children ranging from age 18 months to 12 years, as measured by their mastery of skills ranging from social communication to self-regulation. The study found that both intensity and duration of therapy was positively correlated with better long-term outcomes in mastered learning objectives in areas like language, academics, adaptive behavior, and self-care.
Of course, it’s not expected that a child will receive behavior therapy indefinitely.
On average, it’s safe to say kids just starting Cleveland ABA therapy will receive anywhere from 20 to 40 hours weekly. The exact amount depends on things like the child’s age, condition severity, insurance coverage, parental ability, etc. This amount can be naturally reduced – or increased – over time as needed to ensure the child is receiving what they need to make progress on their goals.
We often start at a high intensity level – particularly during the first couple of years – and then taper off as the child gradually masters certain skills – sustainably and across different environments.
Some indicators we look for when assessing whether to reduce or discontinue ABA therapy are things like:
- Confidence in the child’s stage of functioning and independence for their age.
- The child is learning from the environment without the need for direct instruction.
- Parents and teachers are able to manage and reduce problem behaviors without additional support of a behavior therapist.
- The child is likely to benefit from a different educational environment (that isn’t one-on-one).
- Key goals have been met, and target skills mastered.
- The child is able to generalize their skills to different environments.
- New skills are acquired and mastered without requiring direct intervention and instruction.
Ending ABA therapy is often a major transition for kids, teens, and young adults. Our team works with parents, teachers, and others to make that transition as smooth and successful as possible.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides ABA therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
An evaluation of the effects of intensity and duration on outcomes across treatment domains for children with autism spectrum disorder, September 2017, Translational Psychiatry
More Blog Entries:
Cleveland ABA Therapists Explain Our Aim for Generalization of Skills, Nov. 2, 2022, Northeast Ohio ABA Therapy Blog