If you’re a parent of a child with autism, you may be surprised to receive a recommendation that your child should receive 40 hours a week of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. You may also feel that 40 hours a week is too much for your child. Let’s consider the various reasons why a recommendation of 40 hours a week of ABA therapy might be provided.
Initial Autism Diagnosis
When a child is initially diagnosed with autism, the practitioner who completes the diagnosis will be a pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They will typically provide a recommendation of 40 hours a week of ABA therapy.
The reason for this recommendation is to provide the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) at the ABA center, who will conduct additional assessments and will be providing therapy to the child, with the flexibility to recommend the hours they believe are needed to help the child. That may be 40 hours a week, but upon the BCBA’s further assessment, it may also be less.
Assessment by Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Prior to your child receiving ABA therapy, a BCBA will conduct additional assessments of the child’s specific skill levels. Based on the results of the assessments, the BCBA will prepare a treatment plan that will include a recommendation for the number of hours of ABA therapy the child should receive each week. The treatment plan will be submitted to the parents for review and signature and subsequently to the insurance company for approval. Once approved, ABA therapy sessions can be started for the child.
Reasons for 40 Hours A Week of Therapy
ABA therapy, like any other childhood intervention, can be more effective the younger the child starts and the more hours they receive. A 40-hour-a-week ABA therapy schedule does not mean that the child is sitting at a table working for 40 hours a week. ABA is very interactive and involves programs, positive reinforcement, downtime, time working on skills in different areas of the ABA center, and playtime. Skills are taught in all these settings.
ABA therapy should keep your child productively engaged and learning during the entire time that they are at the ABA center. Overall, it should be a fun and positive experience for your child.
However, parents should also be cautious about ABA providers who are insistent on 40 hours a week, regardless of whether the child still needs a nap or has other necessary therapies that reduce their availability for ABA therapy. Some ABA providers are singularly focused on profits and their profits are highest if the child attends for the full 40 hours a week.
If your child needs a nap, then maybe the child should receive ABA therapy before and after the nap or should receive half days of ABA therapy until she/he no longer needs a nap. In addition, ABA providers should work with parents to provide a schedule that will accommodate other therapies to the extent possible.
Summary: Does Your Child Really Need 40 Hours of ABA Treatment?
A recommendation of 40 hours a week of ABA therapy from the professional who diagnoses your child is no reason for concern. It allows the BCBA the flexibility to recommend the number of hours they feel are needed after conducting further assessments. A schedule of 40 hours a week can allow your child to make more progress sooner.
In addition, the time at the ABA center should overall be an enjoyable time for your time. If an ABA center is pressing for 40 hours a week of ABA even if your child needs naps or needs to attend other therapies, that may be the time for parents to question the need for the full 40 hours each week.
Steps to Progress is committed to providing individualized treatment options. Our ABA therapists want your child to feel empowered every step of the way and will tailor our therapy sessions to your needs. Start your ABA journey today!