Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) has been growing in popularity in recent years for a variety of disorders. Various practitioners are available in most North American cities.
What is ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy, or Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), is a type of therapy that uses positive reinforcement to improve social, communication, and learning skills.
ABA therapy is primarily used to treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other developmental conditions. In addition, it has also been successfully used to treat other conditions, such as dementia, substance abuse and misuse, cognitive impairment (especially after a brain injury), eating disorders, anger issues, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, and OCD.
Benefits of ABA Therapy
The many benefits of ABA therapy include understanding and being able to change behaviours. Some end goals of ABA therapy include positive change in communication and language, social skills, self-care (including showering and toileting), motor skills, play and leisure, as well as learning and academic skills.
Phases of ABA Therapy
ABA therapy can be divided into four main phases. These include:
- Consultation and Assessment – During this first phase, a functional behaviour assessment (FBA) will be performed, focusing on strengths, abilities, as well as challenges. The practitioner will spend time with the patient, most often a child, and make observations about their behaviour, skills, and communication level.
- Plan Development – In this next phase, the practitioner will develop a plan for the therapy sessions, with clear treatment goals. These can include improving skills and communication, as well as reducing self harm behaviours.
Some examples of plans include early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) to teach communication, social interaction, and functional and adaptive skills, Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) to incorporate several simultaneous goals, verbal behaviour interventions, and discrete trial training, which offers rewards for positive behaviour. In addition, pivotal response training is also an option, allowing the patient to take the lead in certain situations and activities.
- Parent and Caregiver Training – In this third phase, parents and caregivers focus on achieving and maintaining therapy goals outside of the clinical setting. Parents, teachers, and caregivers must reinforce behaviours learned in therapy for the therapy to be effective. Skills will be broken down into small, concrete steps from simple to progressively more complex tasks. Ensure that these are followed outside of therapy for optimal results.
- Evaluation – Finally, in the evaluation phase is ongoing. The practitioner will continually monitor and evaluate progress and make changes to the treatment plan as necessary.
What to Expect During ABA Therapy
During ABA therapy, it is important to determine which behaviours need to be changed and set goals and expected outcomes.
It is also important to regularly review progress and decide if further therapy and behaviour modification is necessary.
Costs of ABA Therapy
The costs of ABA therapy vary, often depending on multiple factors including type of therapy needed, severity of the issues, geographical location, and number of sessions required.
In general, ABA therapy in most cities can be found for approximately $120 USD per hour. In certain cases, it can cost approximately $46,000 to 47,500 USD per year. At times, at home, ABA therapy can cost approximately $15,000 USD per year.
Although about 40 hours of therapy per week is recommended, often 10 to 20 hour is sufficient for most clients.
Improvement is often seen within a few months, however, some clients require a few years of treatment.
Insurance is often not available or difficult to obtain for this form of therapy. However, with some research a representative can be found. It is recommended for the client to send a photo and notes to the insurance company representative. This will help present your case on a more personal level. Note that Medicaid must provide insurance for medically necessary treatment.
Choosing the Right ABA Therapist
Finding the perfect ABA therapist is now easier than ever. Firstly, consider asking friend, family, and coworkers for considerations.
For individuals who require more privacy and discretion, simply conduct a quick internet search on your favourite web browser, and then narrow down results with review sites, such as the Better BusinessBureau (BBB), Yelp, or Google reviews.
Be sure to ask pertinent questions, especially with regard to therapist experience and training.Ensure that the ABA therapist is approved by the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BACB).
Include questions about treating and dealing with self harming behaviour, attending the session with your child or dependent, and number of sessions required.
Finally, be sure to ask about sliding scale and payment plans, as well as any funding opportunities or scholarships.
ABA therapists can be found in most major North American cities. Contact one today to discuss the details of your particular case, as well as pricing plans and options.