Overview and Summary of Scientific Support for Applied Behavior Analysis

0.5 MB

Sourced from The Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine



What is ABA therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) leverages the science of learning and behavior to solve socially significant problems through behavior change. This approach recognizes the causal influence the environment has on behavior, and serves as a limitless toolkit caregivers, teachers, and ABA therapists can use to create enriched learning environments loaded with positive reinforcement that improve learners’ quality of life.

Accordingly, ABA therapy is a service to the individual and their parents that addresses symptoms of autism to the extent that behavior change or new skills will ensure the individual's safety and wellbeing, and help them achieve independence, mutually rewarding relationships, hobbies and interests, academic success, connections in the community, and ultimately prepares them to live rewarding, meaningful, and productive lives.

Can I trust ABA therapy will be effective?

Supported by decades of scientific research, ABA therapy is the gold standard when it comes to education and treatment of individuals with autism and related developmental disorders. The extent to which ABA therapy is effective in a given situation depends on many variables including the severity of their delays or deficits and the intensity and quality of ABA therapy. We adopt the highest clinical standards in the industry and then take them to the next level with a rigorous quality assurance system to ensure that every moment spent in ABA therapy with our highly skilled and compassionate therapists is as effective as possible.

How do I find out if my child has autism?

Autism risk can be detected as early as 12 months. Recognizing the signs of autism is critical because the earlier autism is detected, the sooner a child with autism can benefit by receiving high-quality autism care services. Although ABA therapy is helpful at any age, it’s most effective in early stages of brain development. Thus, early intervention is the key to your child’s success.

You know your child best. If you are worried about your child’s development, please contact your child’s doctor now.

You can also click here to complete the “Modified Checklist for Autism in ToddlersTM” screener to determine if your child may be exhibiting symptoms of autism. If the screener suggests your child has a high risk of autism, please contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible to schedule an evaluation with a qualified healthcare provider.

We're also in your corner and here to help. If you need any guidance at all, please call us. We'd love to chat with you and guide you along this early part of your journey.

Does insurance cover ABA treatment?

Yes! All 50 states require insurance coverage of ABA services. For more information, click here. Coverage varies by insurance and plan. Click here to contact us and our medical billing specialists will verify the insurance information you provide, and provide you with information about any copayment, coinsurance, and deductible related to your plan. Your patient responsibility portion will be charged or billed to you after your insurance assesses your claim to ensure the correct amount. Please contact your insurance company or refer to your benefit plan for more information about out-of-pocket costs related to your care.

How long will treatment need to be continued?

Similar to ABA therapy effectiveness, the length of treatment in a given situation depends on many variables including the severity of their delays or deficits, the intensity and quality of ABA therapy, and age. We can’t predict how long a given child will need to receive ABA therapy. Some individuals who are highly impacted may require ABA therapy through adolescence and into adulthood to meet their goals, reduce any adverse effects of autism on quality of life, and eliminate the need to receieve additional ABA services.

For a comprehensive program beginning around age 3 or 4 years, 2 – 4 years of ABA therapy has been shown to produce great outcomes in language, social skills, independence, and adaptive behavior, and help children respond better to academic instruction in general education classrooms.

How many hours per week will my child need in therapy?

At the start of ABA therapy, your child’s Maraca care team will conduct a comprehensive assessment of his or her strengths, delays, and deficits, medical necessity of ABA therapy, and autism severity. Based on the results of the assessment, the Maraca care team will recommend the level of service. Comprehensive center-based services are generally 30 – 40 hours per week, although some children may participate in 20 hour per week programs. In-home ABA therapy hours too can range between 20 and 40 hours per week, but 20 is more common.

What are the differences between in-home and center-based ABA therapy?

Center-based ABA therapy compared to in-home ABA therapy:

Typically intensive and comprehensive (i.e., more hours of therapy), although Focused Programs are available in our Learning Centers. Convenient if parents work outside the home. Most sessions are 1:1 with a therapist and your child, but there are also numerous opportunities for participation in small group instruction and socialization with peers. Contact with a wider range of therapists. Coverage is easier to ensure if a technician happens to cancel. More participation in seasonal activities such as Halloween and Christmas activities, birthday celebrations, and special events such as easter egg hunts. Caregivers drop off and pick up their child. ABA therapy is ongoing for 100% of the time your child is in the Center. Higher structure and more predictable routines.

In-home ABA therapy compared to Center-based ABA therapy:

Typically less intensive and comprehensive to better suit a home environment, although comprehensive in-home services are available. Almost all sessions are 1:1 with a technician and your child. Caregivers must be home during all therapy hours but do not need to participate in all sessions. ABA therapy occurs generally in one- or two-hour sessions with breaks between sessions. More opportunities for caregivers to collaborate, receive training, and apply ABA therapy strategies to help the learner and cope with everyday challenges. Caregiver integration of ABA therapy strategies into daily routines such as meals, play time, and bedtime. Increases the likelihood the learner will generalize learning and improve behavior across a range of people, activities, and settings. You child’s clinical team will be more intimately aware of the day-to-day needs at home and in the community and how to help.