A children’s autism center can provide you with applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to help your child improve social, and community integration, language, coping, tolerance, and self-help skills. The earlier a child receives this type of intensive therapy, the better their outcomes.
ABA can help reduce interfering behaviors in children while equipping their caregivers to appropriately respond and redirect when such behaviors occur. Here’s what you should look for when selecting an autism center for your child.
Alignment With Your Goals
Every child is unique and requires their own distinct treatment plan. Look for an autism center that takes the time to thoughtfully develop a custom treatment program for your child. The ideal plan utilizes evidence-based practices that rely upon observable data to verify the effectiveness of the treatment. The program should incorporate routine assessments followed by mindful adjustments to ensure that the therapy aligns with your child’s changing needs.
When you’re first consulting with the autism center, they should ask pointedly about your short- and long-term goals. With this information in hand, the center can draft a personalized program complete with actionable steps like clear replacement behaviors for problem behaviors and workable maintenance activities that you can easily incorporate at home.
While your child is the main focus of the treatment, it’s important to recognize that caregiver training is equally important. One of the main goals of an ABA program is to equip the child’s caregivers to provide appropriate care outside of the facility.
By the time your child is diagnosed with autism, you’re probably quite familiar with how costly this condition can be. Formal diagnostic tests and assessments for children with autism can range from $800 to $3,500. On average, ABA therapy is charged at a rate of $120 an hour. Medical costs for children who require consistent behavioral interventions and support can cost as much as $60,000 a year.
Discuss costs, insurance coverage, payment plans, and assistance programs with the autism centers that you’re considering so you have a clear idea of what treatment will cost. It’s crucial that you select a facility that’s open and transparent about the cost of treatment so you can plan appropriately for your financial situation. If you’re struggling with the cost of treatment, there are autism grants that can help.
ABA therapy is a major time commitment. Comprehensive ABA therapy for children under 3 years of age provides the best outcomes with 25 to 30 hours a week. Children at or over age 3 do best with 30 to 40 hours a week. As children transition out of their comprehensive treatment program, they will often move to a focused treatment plan, which requires 10 to 25 hours a week.
When you’re dedicating this much time to the program, it’s important to make sure that it fits well with your schedule. Consider consulting with multiple providers so you can compare the recommended time commitment and available scheduling options. Look for a children’s autism center that offers a workable program that fits into your lifestyle as comfortably as possible.
Registered and Certified Professionals
Inquire about the certification and registration of the professionals managing your child’s case and providing treatment. You should look for professionals that are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) verifies individuals’ ability to properly treat patients by requiring applicants to demonstrate an extensive educational background and pass the BACB exam. The BACB also offers the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification. To become an RBT, an individual must have 40 hours of qualified training and complete a competency assessment.
No Red Flags
Keep a keen eye out for common red flags when you’re comparing children’s autism centers. Avoid any facilities that claim to have a cure for autism. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition. Rather, it is maintained through appropriate therapies, routines, and practices.
Cookie-cutter treatment plans are another red flag. No autism treatment center should be able to recommend a comprehensive treatment plan without first evaluating your child and interviewing the primary caregivers. Your treatment plan should always be flexible and fluid to accommodate the changing needs of your child. The center should not provide you with a concrete timeline for your child’s progress, as this is impossible to gauge in these situations.
An ABA program can make a dramatic difference in your child’s life, so it’s worth it to find the best provider for your needs. The right children’s autism center will communicate clearly, provide individualized services, and work with you to make sure the program fits your schedule and financial situation.
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