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Home-Based vs. Center-Based ABA Therapy

The CDC estimates that 1 in 44 children are affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While there is no cure for autism, therapies such as ABA, OT and Speech are often prescribed to address the symptoms and challenges associated with ASD.

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is an evidence-based method of therapy endorsed by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. ABA focuses on teaching children communication skills, social skills, motor skills, self-care skills, and more through positive reinforcement and addressing the cause and effect of certain behaviors.

Let’s examine the differences between center-based and home-based ABA therapy so you understand each as you navigate how to support your child’s growth.

Center-Based Therapy

There has been an increase in ABA centers throughout the United States due to the number of benefits center-based therapy offers children and their families.

Every center is designed differently, but the focus is on teaching key skills in a designated learning environment. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) design learning plans for each child, and Behavior Therapists carry out these plans.

Center-based services offer children a combination of one-on-one therapy combined with social skills programs and opportunities to interact and play with peers. Students learn various skills, including communication, social and daily living skills, and adaptive behaviors.

Benefits of Center-Based Therapy

Practicing Skills in Multiple Environments

Children with autism often struggle to generalize skills. If they learn to clean up after lunch in one environment, they may not carry the routine to a new place.

Center-based ABA therapy allows children to build skills in a learning environment. It is easier for children to carry these skills to school after learning them in a similar environment.

Students also prepare to transition from home to school by practicing transitions from home to the center.

Social Interaction with Peers

Additionally, children can practice appropriate social interactions with peers in therapy centers. They even have access to new toys and reinforcers, which increases motivation to stay focused and complete work. These new toys belong to the center, not individual children, which promotes sharing.

Regular Access to Multiple BCBAs

At a center, multiple BCBAs are available to evaluate children. After observing a few sessions, these professionals can adjust lesson plans quickly and effectively.

On the other hand, children in home-based therapy may receive less frequent visits from BCBAs due to busy schedules and are typically assigned to one supervising BCBA.

Compatibility with Parent Schedules

Parents with busy schedules may benefit from center-based therapy. Especially for younger children, the ABA center can remove the need to shuttle them between daycare, therapy, and social activities.

As your child progresses, the ABA center can also prepare them for a school setting with classrooms that simulate preschool and kindergarten activities while still under the direction of a BCBA and with the direct one-on-one support your child may need.

Finally, parents do not have to stay home during sessions or prepare a distraction-free learning environment.

Home-Based Therapy

Home-based ABA therapy involves behavioral therapists visiting children at home. They teach many of the same skills as they would in a center, but children learn in a familiar environment.

Students in home-based therapy often focus on skills that are useful at home. They may learn to tie their shoes, play board games with family members, and interact appropriately with siblings.

In-home ABA therapy can be very effective for many children. Behavior Therapists are trained to use the familiar environment to their advantage as they work with children to build multiple skills.

Benefits of Home-Based Therapy

Therapy in a Familiar, Relaxed Environment

Many children with autism are uncomfortable in new environments. Home-based ABA therapy allows Behavior Therapists to meet children at their comfort level and use it to their advantage. When a child is relaxed and comfortable, they can advance more quickly.

Home-Centered Skill Building

Home-based therapy is also ideal for building skills that are useful at home. For example, brushing teeth and folding laundry will be necessary at home but are rarely required in school curriculums. Students who learn such skills in a learning environment may struggle to transfer them to their homes.

Family Involvement

There are also benefits for the family. Those living with the child can be more involved in their learning process. When parents or guardians can observe Behavior Therapists providing ABA therapy, they can copy these practices between therapy sessions.

Therapy Comes to You

For some families, home-based therapy is more convenient, especially when a parent is at home during the day. They can work from home or do housework while their child learns.

Is Center-Based ABA Therapy Better Than Home-Based Therapy?

Every child has unique needs. Some children will thrive off center-based therapy, while others will learn most effectively at home. Neither is the perfect solution for all individuals.

An assessment completed by a BCBA will often help identify the best service location for your child and allow you, the parent, opportunities to ask about the positives and negatives of each.

Build a Personalized Therapy Plan with Ascend Autism

Ascend Autism offers both center-based and in-home ABA therapy. Whether a child was recently diagnosed and requires early autism intervention or other forms of therapy, every child can benefit from a personalized therapy plan.

With Ascend Autism, you can rest assured that your child will receive engaging, research-based autism therapy. Contact us today to discuss your child’s unique needs.

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