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What is the cost of ABA therapy?

What is the cost of ABA therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is commonly sought out by parents of children with autism. It's a form of therapy that can aid with social, communication, and learning skills, and is generally regarded as one of the most effective forms of therapy for young individuals with autism. However, many parents worry about the short and long-term costs aba therapy. 

In this guide, we’ll look at how much ABA therapy costs and the factors that influence its price.

The cost of ABA therapy per hour

The typical cost of ABA therapy per hour is between $110 to $130, with an overall average of $120 per hour with a certified ABA therapist. 

In terms of the number of hours required per week, this can vary from case to case. Some children may need 10 hours per week, for a weekly cost of around $1,200, while certain experts recommend up to 40 hours of ABA therapy per week, which can result in a weekly bill of $4,800.

The long-term cost of ABA therapy

In the short term, you'll need to pay approximately $120 per hour of ABA therapy, but how does this add up in the long term? There is no single answer to this question as it depends on your unique situation. 

Some children can see significant improvements after just a few months of ABA therapy and just 10 hours of therapy per week, with total costs ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. Others may require therapy for several years, with costs exceeding $100,000 in total.

Factors that can influence the cost of ABA therapy

As you can see, the total cost of ABA therapy can vary quite a bit. This is because there are many different factors at play, and every case is different. 

Here are some of the most important factors that can affect the cost of ABA therapy: 

  • Number of hours per week - One of the big factors that influence the cost is the total number of hours of therapy required per week. This can be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some children require longer and more intensive therapy sessions, while others can see improvements with just 10 hours of therapy a week.
  • The provider - Costs for ABA therapy can also vary based on the provider you work with. Naturally, providers and therapists who have more extensive experience and more advanced certifications will typically charge more for their services. Those who are BCBA-Ds, or Board Certified Behavior Analysts with PhDs, tend to charge the highest rates.
  • Location - The cost of ABA therapy for parents can also be dependent on your location. Some states have many more ABA programs and centers than others, and the increased level of competition leads to more affordable prices. Some states also have supportive initiatives and programs in place to ease the burden on parents and reduce the amounts they have to pay.
  • Type of program - There are various types of ABA therapy programs, from early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) to pivotal response training and verbal behavior intervention. Some forms of therapy are more intensive and demand more work, resulting in higher costs for parents to pay.

How to reduce the cost of ABA therapy

The high costs of ABA therapy for children with autism generate a lot of stress for many parents. A lot of moms and dads wonder how they will afford the cost of this therapy and may struggle to pay the therapy bills. 

Fortunately, there are several options out there to help lower the amount you have to pay and make it easier to manage the expense of ABA therapy. 

Some of these options include:

  • Insurance
  • State grants
  • Assistance for low-income families
  • School support

Below, we’ll look closer at how each of these different aids can help you and how they work.

Insurance coverage for ABA therapy

Most health insurance plans will cover at least some of the cost of ABA therapy. The specifics of this can vary based on your location. Some states have insurance mandates for autism treatment costs, while others are less supportive. It's a good idea to look up the situation in your home state to learn more.

You can also take a look at the details of your family’s health insurance policy to find out what kind of coverage it offers. Even if you don’t see "autism treatment" or "autism care" listed, it's likely that the policy will at least offer coverage for certain parts of your child's therapy. 

Contact your provider to find out more. They should be able to answer any questions you have.

State grants for helping with ABA therapy costs

As stated above, location is a highly influential factor in determining the cost of ABA therapy. Some states are much more supportive than others and will even provide grants to help cover the costs of this treatment. You can find out more about your state by talking to your child’s doctor or contacting the local Department of Health and Human Services. 

In the meantime, here is a list of some of the states that provide grants: 

  • California 
  • Indiana 
  • Vermont 
  • Maryland 
  • New Jersey 
  • New York 
  • New Hampshire

Assistance for low-income families

There are many private clinics out there that offer ABA therapy and work with children with autism. Most of them do not offer free services, but they are still welcoming to low-income families and have systems in place to reduce the financial burden on those families. 

A lot of ABA centers will offer:

  • Free consultations -  A good way to get started and gives you an opportunity to speak with the center's staff and discuss your options. 
  • Sliding scale systems - Helpful for lowering costs for low-income families.
  • Free treatment or scholarships - Based on the situation and needs of the family in question.

In addition, it’s worth noting that Medicaid applies with ABA therapy, too. If you are a low-income family and meet the necessary requirements for Medicaid, you can receive ABA therapy as a covered treatment for autism for your child.

Schools to obtain low-cost or free ABA threrapy

One of the best ways to obtain lost-cost or free ABA therapy for your child is via your local school system. Thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, school districts are obligated to help disabled students receive the best services and environments for a successful education. 

This doesn't necessarily mean that the school has to provide ABA services, but most have started to do so, as ABA is widely-regarded as the most effective and scientifically proven form of treatment for autism. 

If your child's school is in an urban or suburban area, there's a particularly high chance that it will cover ABA therapy for your child. Availability in rural areas is generally slightly lower, but is on the rise.

It's worth noting that the school may wish to carry out its own evaluation of a child with autism first, before deciding whether or not ABA therapy is the most appropriate option. You can speak with your local school to find out more and begin the process.

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