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ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy is the most recommended course of treatment by pediatricians and by psychologists who diagnose children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The last few decades of ABA have helped many children with autism and their families through emotional, behavioral, communication, and academic struggles with a high rate of success.
ABA has helped to reduce self injurious behaviors and aggression toward others. It has helped to facilitate improved communication, social interactions, and improve academic performance by teaching children with autism how to focus and stay on task.
All of these things add up to a high quality of life for a child with autism. Anything that helps a child to make more friendships and feel better about school is worth the cost.
But, what is the cost?
How much does ABA therapy cost without insurance?
If a family decided to pay for ABA therapy out of pocket due to a lack of medical insurance- it would be rather expensive. The average cost nationwide in the United States is approximately $120 per hour.
The average number of hours that a client receives each week in ABA therapy is 22.3 hours. Multiply that by $120 and you quickly find out that one week of therapy can cost more than your house payment. 22 X 120= 2676. That figure represents one week of a little more than twenty two hours.
Some children only require 10 hours each week. That would amount to $1200 for the week.
What about the children with autism who have severe behaviors and require 40 hours per week? Get ready to shell out $4800. Not per month- for ONE week.
Annually, ten hours each week will cost $62,400, the average twenty two hours will cost $139,152 and the 40 hour weeks will tally up to $249,600 each year.
There aren’t many families out there who have an extra quarter of a million dollars in the bank to pay cash out of pocket for ABA therapy. Keep in mind, this is just the cost of one service, and it does not begin to factor in what it costs to raise a child that requires additional medical care.
Does insurance cover ABA therapy?
Thankfully, ABA has a long history of success, and it has established itself as the best treatment option for children with ASDs. This has made it possible to receive treatment for your child and cover most, if not all, of the cost of treatment with insurance.
Your options will vary from state to state, but most private insurances have coverage for autism treatment. More recently, with the rise in the number of children who are diagnosed with ASDs, government insurance plans now cover the cost of treatment for autism services.
Some families still struggle with the costs of co-pays that are required for ABA therapy. Luckily, most states either have some program or government grants available to families to assist with the cost. If a family still can’t get all of their costs covered, there are wonderful charitable organizations such as Autism Speaks that raises funding for research and there is school funded ABA therapy.
How much does it cost to raise a child with autism?
Over a lifetime, a child with autism can cost a family anywhere from 1.4 to 2.4 million dollars in care and treatment by the time that they reach the age of 18.
Consider the costs : an article written by Catherine Pearson in December of 2017 states:
“On average, the cost for children with autism and an intellectual disability in the U.S. was more than $107,800 per year up to age 5, and roughly $85,600 per year between ages 6 and 17. Among children with no diagnosed intellectual disabilities, the associated costs were lower: approximately $63,290 per year for those 5 and under, and $52,205 per year for those between 6 and 17.
The top average annual cost was special education, followed by parents’ productivity losses and medical expenses, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency, home health care, pharmacy and out-of-pocket costs.”
This study factored in lost wages by parents- and rightly so. Time off from work to care for a child with autism can be frequent, and over time it adds up to a lot of money. That needs to be accounted for, especially if a family is trying to pay for therapy. Other expenses such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, daycare programs, home health, psychology, and crisis management are just a few of the other types of services that might be required- depending on the severity of the child’s autism.
Why is ABA therapy so expensive?
ABA therapy is a service that has many layers of professionals in place to provide services for your child.
At intake, BCBAs provide evaluations and functional behavioral analyses for clients to create an appropriate treatment plan.
RBTs are certified, staffed, and trained to carry out treatment plans under the direct supervision of a BCBA supervisor.
Clinical Directors watch over the BCBAs, and they keep things running smoothly with all of the BCBA supervisors and their team.
An entire department advocates to keep insurances paying for services by submitting evaluations and progress reports for clients.
Parent training is prepared and delivered to families that are receiving treatment.
The scheduling department usually requires several people to keep things running smoothly for families and the RBTs who provide services.
In the field, it is hard being in a client’s home for 20 to 40 hours each week. RBTs are paid a decent wage because the job is tough, and it requires training and focus while working with children in their homes.
BCBAs are compensated well for their time because they are usually managing anywhere from 10 to 14 RBTs and the families that they serve. From start to finish, they construct a treatment plan based on careful evaluation during intake, and the plan changes continuously for each child as they make progress and move on to other tasks.
Everyone who works with your child must maintain certification and licensure with continual training and annual fees for maintaining the proper qualifications. ABA is expensive because it takes a lot of people to implement a successful plan for each and every child.
If You Need Help with Autism Services
If you live in the New Jersey area, and you are trying to figure out a way to establish services for your child who has been diagnosed with autism- we are here to help.
Circle Care Services can help you to figure out how much your insurance will cover for services. If your insurance doesn’t cover treatment, we can help you find the resources that will help to cover the costs of ABA therapy. Circle Care is here to help families. Give us a call and let us help you to find the perfect treatment options for your child with autism.