How Many ABA Therapy Hours Does Your Child Need Per Week?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders. In many of these cases, doctors will recommend Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to help the patient manage some of the more affecting symptoms of these disorders.

If your child has been recommended or referred to an ABA therapist, you may be wondering how much treatment time they will need on a weekly basis. We’re here to offer some guidelines on how many hours of ABA therapy per week they may need.

Getting An Evaluation

The first step for any family looking into ABA therapy is an evaluation. This will be performed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who will assess your child’s skills and behavior. Parents will also undergo an interview so the analyst can better understand their home life, family dynamics, and personality.

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The analyst will then review all of the information they have collected from the child, family, and intake information. They will use this information to put together a proposed ABA treatment plan that will suit your child’s needs. This ABA therapy schedule will also include the clinically recommended number of hours your child should undergo ABA therapy per week. Throughout treatment, these hours will be reassessed depending on the child’s needs and progress.

Different Treatment Plans

There are two types of ABA treatment plans proposed by the Council of Autism Service Providers – these are “focused” and “comprehensive” treatments. Both treatment models recommend a different range of hours per week for children undergoing ABA therapy.

Focused ABA

The less intensive of the two, focused ABA treatment recommends between 10-25 hours per week. This can be either one-on-one treatment with a therapist or group therapy involving other children with similar behavioral goals. Focused ABA is recommended for children with more limited needs, including fewer behavioral targets and skill-building goals.

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Focused treatment tends to concentrate on developing and improving skills like communication, social integration, self-care, and independence. Focused ABA tends to end with the child phasing out of ABA treatment.

Comprehensive ABA

Comprehensive ABA requires more time and more intensive treatment, which averages out to 26-40 hours per week. It mostly consists of one-on-one treatment between the child and their ABA therapist. This treatment plan is aimed at children who struggle in a number of developmental areas and to a higher degree than those engaged in focused ABA and is best implemented at an early age.

This treatment will not only focus on building necessary life skills and independence but also on decreasing negative behaviors that can be an obstacle to their everyday life and development.

Individual and Family Needs

There are also a number of factors that your therapist will take into account when setting a recommended ABA therapy schedule. These will include:

  • Severity: This is especially true for children on the autism spectrum. There are three levels of severity for people with autism, from level 1 (“requiring some support) to level 2 (“requiring substantial support) to level 3 (requiring very substantial support.)

  • Financial situation: Naturally, the family’s financial situation will affect the number of hours they can afford. Health insurance coverage includes autism treatment, which should cover ABA therapy, but this is up to the individual family.
  • Responses to treatment: Depending on the progress of the individual child, hours can be decreased or increased over time. If a child is making considerable gains in life skills and positive behaviors, and reduced negative behaviors, they will be phased out of treatment much earlier than children who respond to treatment more slowly.

As you can see the exact amount of recommended ABA therapy hours per week will change depending on the patient. No two people are the same, and any ABA therapy schedule will take into account each person’s specific needs, goals, and abilities. Successful treatment may require 40-hour weeks for 3 years or 10-hour weeks for just one.

Above all, it is essential that your child remains in ABA treatment for as long as their doctor or therapist recommends, or as long as your child and your family situation allows. The longer the treatment the better the outcomes, and withdrawing your child before the recommended time frame can undo much of the progress they make in ABA therapy.

If you are looking for an ABA therapist in Atlanta, look no further than Bolling ABA. We provide professional services and behavioral consulting for individuals living with autism and related disorders. Call our office at 404.981.4105 or send an email to arrange your first consultation with us!

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