How Long Does ABA Therapy Last?

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An older child sitting on the ground next to his RBT who is laying down
Published:  June 13, 2023

As a highly effective early intervention treatment, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy aims to improve critical skills in children with autism. Many parents have questions about how long ABA therapy lasts and its impact on their child’s development. Gaining a better understanding of the ABA process and what to expect as treatment progresses can provide valuable insight into how long your child may need ABA.

How Long is ABA Therapy?

The average length of ABA therapy varies based on the needs and learning pace of each child. For preschool aged children, the goal is often readiness for traditional school programs. This is typically accomplished through an intensive early intervention program ranging from 30 to 40 hours per week.

Early intervention programs for children with autism produce the best outcomes due to the frequency and consistency of sessions, which is crucial for effective skill development and behavior change. However, it’s important to remember that the duration and intensity of therapy should be based on your child’s needs and progress, and should be determined collaboratively by the ABA center’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and your family.

Initial Assessment and Treatment Planning

The first step in determining how long your child needs ABA therapy is the initial assessment. During your ABA therapy assessment, a qualified BCBA will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to understand your child’s strengths, challenges, and specific areas of need. This assessment will be used to develop your child’s personalized treatment plan.

Based on their expertise and understanding of your child, the BCBA may recommend a full-time therapy schedule to lay a solid foundation. As your child makes strides and achieves their goals, your BCBA will gradually reduce the weekly therapy hours, ensuring continued growth and development.

Progress Monitoring and Treatment Adjustments

Continuous progress monitoring plays a vital role throughout your child’s ABA therapy journey. BCBAs collect detailed data on your child’s behaviors and skill development, enabling them to measure progress accurately. This data-driven approach allows your BCBA to modify and adjust your child’s treatment plan, ensuring they continue to make meaningful strides towards their goals.

ABA therapy programs also prioritize open communication and collaboration between your BCBA and your family. Regular meetings provide a valuable opportunity to discuss your child’s progress, address any concerns you may have, and make necessary adjustments to the program. The flexibility of ABA therapy allows your ABA clinic to promptly address any new maladaptive behaviors that may arise after the initial evaluation.

Transitioning from Comprehensive ABA to Focused ABA

As your child’s skills advance, the intensity and duration of ABA therapy can decrease. Oftentimes this means your child may move from a comprehensive ABA therapy program to a more focused ABA approach. This transition phase typically involves a gradual reduction in therapy hours while focusing on maintaining learned skills and generalizing them to different environments and contexts. The BCBA will work closely with your family to provide training and support to ensure a smooth transition and maintenance of skills.

When is a Good Time to Stop ABA Therapy?

The decision to discontinue ABA therapy entirely is influenced by various factors, such as the successful achievement of established goals, consistent progress, and the ability to apply learned skills in different settings. It is crucial to consult with your child’s BCBA when considering this choice to ensure that discontinuing ABA does not result in skill regression. While ABA therapy does not necessarily need to continue indefinitely, it is important to set your child up for future success. By working closely with your child’s BCBA, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your child’s needs and ensures they are equipped with the necessary skills to thrive beyond therapy.

ABA therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why we are elevating the ABA experience for preschool children and their families. At Wellspring Learning Centers, our dedicated team of BCBAs and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) are committed to providing individualized ABA therapy that focuses on the unique strengths and challenges of each child. We offer both comprehensive and focused ABA services to grow alongside your child as they achieve new goals. Through ongoing progress monitoring and collaborative planning with parents, we strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for your child. Contact us to learn more or get started today.

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