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.