Finding Your Fit: Understanding the Differences in Home-Based and Center-Based ABA

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Finding Your Fit: Understanding the Differences in Home-Based and Center-Based ABA

When your child receives a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), your next steps can seem unclear as you navigate a swirl of emotions and information from too many sources to count.

What therapies and services could your child benefit from? How do you find these resources? Once you find resources, how will your family access them? Will new therapy obligations impact your work, family, and extracurricular schedules?

It can very easily start to feel overwhelming. Let’s take a look at just one therapy option, ABA, and review the two most common care delivery models.

It’s likely that, through your child’s healthcare provider, family, friends, or even school, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy has been brought to your attention. ABA is considered one of the top therapy options for children on the Spectrum. It can help your child learn everything from life skills, like potty training, to pre-academic skills, like working in a classroom. Many children with Autism can benefit from ABA therapy with a provider like Midwest.

The first thing to decide is whether you want your child to receive home-based or center-based services. This is a critically important point to consider as you begin researching your options. Let’s break this down and explore the differences between home-based therapy and center-based ABA programs.

Center-Based ABA Therapy

Center-based therapy describes ABA therapy services (or other therapy services) that are provided on-site at an Autism center like Midwest. This option is geared towards families looking for early intervention services (i.e. therapy for children ages 2-4) or who need a more intensive therapy approach.

Center-based programs are designed to provide full-time enrollment (30-40 hours per week) utilizing a care team of two or more Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who provide 1:1 therapy, and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who will oversee the therapy services, create individualized treatment plans, and provide regular family training.

This could be the best fit for your family if you feel your child would benefit from:

  • A structured and consistent learning environment
  • Intensive full-time therapy hours (30 + hours per week)
  • An opportunity to practice social and life skills that may be needed prior to entering school.

Now let’s look at home-based therapy.

Home-Based ABA Therapy

Home-based therapy can provide a more flexible approach with some of the same great aspects of center-based therapy. Your child still gets 1:1 services from an RBT and individualized treatment plans from a BCBA but, home-based therapy is delivered exactly how it sounds – at your home. This can give you the opportunity to learn alongside your child, in your own environment! It can also provide families living in rural communities, where transportation may be a barrier, with greater access to services (yay!).

Home-based therapy typically provides fewer therapy hours per week and is ideal for:

  • Kiddos who have already mastered some skills like potty training and basic communication (i.e. expressing wants/needs).
  • School-aged children (ages 5+ or enrolled in school full-time)
  • Children who have “graduated” out of the 2-6 age range are often used at center-based programs.
  • Families who need their ABA therapists to work around existing appointments/obligations (i.e. school hours, speech therapy appointments, appointments for other family members, etc.).

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to remember that appropriate interventions and individualized treatment can lead to better results. That being said, you know your child, your family, your schedule, and ultimately your family’s treatment goals better than anyone else! Once you understand the options available and weigh them against your family’s needs, the path to therapy becomes much clearer. 

About Midwest Autism Services

Midwest is an early-intervention Autism service provider with centers throughout Iowa and Minnesota, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, functional behavior assessments, and pre-academic development for children on the Autism Spectrum. Our Iowa offices offer center-based therapy services for children ages 2-4 and home-based therapy for children ages 5+.

Enroll now here!


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