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The True Costs of A.B.A.

Parents of autistic children (I am one) will tell you that one of the first red flags encountered is a lack of speech development in their child. For others, it can be anger management or mood swings but for many it is a lack of speech. Now the autism spectrum is a very broad one so there is no one single answer but a lack of speech will come up when hearing stories.

Parents will then begin taking their child to see a revolving door of specialists. Speech therapists, occupational therapists, maybe a physical therapists. Social skills experts are seen. They all cost money (in some cases a lot of money) and parents can run themselves ragged. There really is no one stop shopping where several skill sets can be worked on in the same setting but there is one that comes very close.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (A.B.A.)

History of ABA 


Internet research on the history of ABA will yield several different answers. One consistent belief is that the approach was started by UCLA psychologist Ivar Lovaas. Lovaas’ theory was that if autistic children were rewarded for a particular behavior then they would be likely to repeat the behavior. The enduring legacy of Lovaas’ studies were that children who received 40 hours of ABA saw enormous results. They were able to complete first grade classes and function normally on an intellectual level. Children who received 10 hours saw no such development.

When parents meet with ABA centers, this is a magic number that is quoted. For the approach to be as effective as possible, that is the amount of therapy needed. You could say much the same about any type of therapy but ABA is widely considered the most effective approach. The problem is that the investment is substantial. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of the 32 states that mandates health insurers cover ABA, your load is lightened considerably. Deductibles still have to be met in many cases but there is a backstop. However, some states do not mandate this be covered. Also, some people do not have access to a group health plan and have to pay for this service out of pocket.

Prices are all over the board but $50 an hour can be a starting point. That is a whipping $2,000 a week. It can go up from there. The bigger question though is what is the cost to NOT do ABA. It is, after all, the most effective approach going right now.

How ABA Therapy Works 

Treatment is administered by a trained therapist. The first step is an assessment by the therapists. This establishes the starting point. The therapist elicits the skills the child can do against the skills the child lacks. The second step is to meet with parents where a detailed plan is formulated and presented.

Some combination of the following skills will be emphasized heavily:

  • Academic Development
  • Communication skills
  • Social Skills

One final thing to remember if you are the parent of an autistic child. Parents are pounded with early intervention, early intervention, etc. Early intervention is very important but that is not to mean that a window closes at a certain age. It is never too late to get your child evaluated and seen. The human brain develops into your early 20s. Please do not let a lack of funds deter you from pursuing this incredibly positive approach to helping your autistic child.

Premier Medical Financing is a peer to peer lending resource providing financing for elective medical procedures. ABA falls under this category. If you would like to get started with an application, please click here.