How Much ABA Therapy Does a Child With Autism Really Need?
It’s been more than 30 years since the so-called “1987 Study” by psychologists determined the optimal “dose” for behavior therapy for children with autism was 40 hours a week. Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) on that kind of intensive schedule had big results – typical functioning for children between the ages of 9 to 19, compared to the little impact seen for those who received just 10 hours of ABA therapy weekly.
We recognize that many parents of children newly-diagnosed with autism respond to that figure with some shock. It’s a lot to take in. After all, 40 hours is a full-time job – and our ABA therapists are recommending it to toddlers.
But even though smaller, controlled trials in the years since never exactly replicated the dose results of the 1987 Study, most were close. And now, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, which had previously recommended 30-40 hours weekly per child, formalized that recommendation last month.
The thing to keep in mind, as the BACB noted too, is that with a condition that has as much variation as autism spectrum disorder, it’s unlikely a single, universal dose is going to work for every child. Children with fewer needs – those who clearly on are on a much higher-functioning end of the spectrum – can probably do fine with fewer hours, but it will truly depend on the individual. Such a decision shouldn’t be made without the careful consideration of your child’s physician/psychologist and your Akron ABA therapist.
What Does ABA Therapy Do for Children on the Spectrum
ABA therapy is commonly practiced as an intervention therapy for children with autism. When it is done early – before age 4 (earlier if possible) – and consistently, it has proven to help individuals on the spectrum:
- Improve social interactions;
- Maintain positive behaviors;
- Learn new skills;
- Transfer new skills and behaviors from one situation to another.
The process also helps us to discover for that individual child how we can best control situations where negative behaviors arise and minimize negative behaviors.
Still, the goal is to develop a plan for a therapy schedule that is tailored to the individual child for their distinct needs in a reasonable amount of time.
How We Define Success in ABA Therapy
We believe in all or in at least most cases, early intervention ABA therapy is more effective at high doses than low doses. There are several long-term studies that show at least half of children diagnosed with autism made substantial progress when they received at least 20 hours of ABA therapy every week.
Of the children who made slower progress even with intensive treatment, we generally wouldn’t recommend less therapy. It just make take a bit longer. We’ll evaluate each child regularly to determine if the therapy schedule is working well or if adjustments should be made.
Part of the reason we conduct many of our Akron ABA therapy sessions outside of the clinic environment (at home, school, work, daycare, outings, etc.) is because we want these lessons to carry over and stick much faster. We know the prospect of this much therapy time can seem overwhelming, but these element of our Akron ABA therapy services is that it makes it much more convenient for you too. We know that therapy schedules have to work for the family if they’re going to work too, so we try our best to make that possible.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – is a pediatric therapy center providing ABA therapy to children Northeast Ohio. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email. Serving Brecksville, Akron, Cleveland and surrounding communities in Northeast Ohio.
How much behavioral therapy does an autistic child need? Aug. 27, 2019, By Connie Kasari, Spectrum News
More Blog Entries:
Should We Provide Akron Autism Treatment Before a Diagnosis?, July 21, 2019, Akron ABA Therapy