Thursday, April 21, 2011

Clinic Notes: Cost of ABA

As most parents of children with autism know, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as a treatment for children with autism was pioneered 25 or so years ago by Ivar Lovaas. This was before autism was epidemic and somewhat of a novelty diagnosis. Many parents and some therapist say that ABA cures autism and will spend anything to see that their child get ABA. ABA does not cure autism. Lovaas's studies did not show that ABA cured autism, but that children with 40 hours of ABA weekly were more likely to be mainstreamed. Most children with autism will need speech and occupational therapy for fine motor problems in addition to ABA. Some families are spending $100,000 yearly for ABA. Sometimes insurance companies will pay for ABA and even have a billing code for ABA. But then again in some states the same insurance will deny payment saying that ABA is experimental. Now I am a psychologist in the ABA business and live in a rural community. I don't know of anyone spending six figures on ABA. Licensed Psychologists and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA's) are qualified providers of ABA. Someone who has been to a workshop on ABA is not. Spend your money wisely.

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