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Telehealth for ABA Therapy: Is It Effective?

COVID-19 changed how many of us did things in our lives. Telehealth for doctor’s appointments, psychiatry visits, and applied behavioral analysis (ABA) became the standard way to connect throughout the country when it wasn’t as safe to see one another in person.

Throughout the pandemic, Ascend Autism offered telehealth ABA services to children with autism to connect, learn, and grow beyond therapy in person. We plan to continue offering this service well into the future.

Discover more about telehealth ABA therapy and why it might be right for your family to supplement their development in life.

What is Telehealth ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavioral Analysis for autism helps children overcome developmental challenges and develop the cognitive, social, and communication skills to help them thrive in their everyday lives. Since the 1960s, ABA has been an effective way to help children of all ages, learning levels, and medical diagnoses succeed in life.

While telehealth was used before COVID-19 emerged, its use in various psychiatric and medical scenarios grew as the pandemic continued. Many companies, including Ascend Autism, dived headfirst into offering treatment options over Zoom and other video conferencing platforms to ensure patients didn’t suffer without continued support during this time.

How COVID-19 Changed ABA Therapy (and All Therapies)

COVID-19 brought out innovation and creativity from businesses across the globe, including us. However, we needed to find a way to continue supporting and connecting with families and children. For autistic children, a change in pattern or schedule can impede progress and growth. We knew we had to step up and find a way to continue supporting our clients despite being unable to meet in person.

ABA therapy via telehealth offers the following for families:

  • Scheduling convenience: Telehealth allows families and children more flexibility in therapy options. If they can’t attend sessions at a specific time, scheduling them via video conference makes it even easier to fit time in during their busy days.
  • Improved patient satisfaction and outcomes: Telehealth also allows for more touchpoints and support, leading to better outcomes for children and their families as treatment plans are modified, and interventions happen more frequently.
  • More communication and supervision: In addition to in-home support, telehealth allows for more supervision to supplement that time spent in person. More time together working one-on-one with a therapist helps build that positive reinforcement that makes ABA therapy so successful.
  • Increased engagement with technology: As children respond to technology during therapy, they’ll engage with it in other scenarios, especially regarding communication skills.
  • Addresses health concerns: Whether it’s COVID-19 exposure at home, the dreaded cold that makes its way through the whole family, or other health concerns, telehealth gives you the peace of mind that you won’t get sick or get others sick from meeting in person.

How Does ABA Telehealth Therapy Work?

When working with Ascend Autism, we leverage platforms like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and others to connect directly through video. Online chat might be used, too, depending on the therapy session. Your child will attend a session online with their therapist working on communication, developmental, and other skills one-on-one. Parents can work with our team through telehealth, too.

Using Telehealth for ABA Services: What Should I Expect?

We recommend the following for families to ensure telehealth ABA therapy is successful at home:

  • A reliable internet connection
  • A computer or device capable of online/live video streaming
  • Setting aside a block of time without interruption or distraction

The space you use for telehealth should be comfortable, safe, and ideally free from the normal commotion around the home. This will help your child focus and stay engaged during our time together. In addition, as your child becomes familiar with the new routine, ABA sessions through telehealth will get easier for you and your family.

Read more about how our telehealth for ABA therapy works with our guide here.

Ascend Autism’s Telehealth Statistics for ABA Therapy

During the pandemic, we learned a lot about how our clients wanted to use telehealth, how successful it was, and if they wanted to continue using it after the pandemic slowed down. Here are some interesting telehealth tidbits from what we learned during the process:

  • During the height of covid, ~65% of our pre-existing cases were able to continue via telehealth sessions.
  • For the other ~35%, telehealth was not a viable option due to the child’s profile. Those cases must be put on hold until in-person sessions are an option.
  • Today, ~10% of our cases still have a significant telehealth component to weekly sessions (i.e., telehealth exclusively or a hybrid between telehealth and in-person).
  • Today, ~6% of our cases utilize 100% telehealth sessions.

Families might prefer telehealth sessions for three main reasons:

  • Health concerns, such as COVID, etc.
  • Scheduling convenience
  • Improved child engagement during sessions due to the use of technology

Does Ascend Autism Recommend ABA Therapy via Telehealth?

Ascend Autism recommends virtual and in-person therapy for families who wish to use telehealth treatment with us. Telehealth may not be the perfect substitute for in-person therapy. It will depend on a child’s profile. We’ll always make the best recommendation for your child’s growth and success.

What Does the Future of ABA Telehealth Sessions Look Like?

The future is bright for ABA telehealth sessions and telehealth across various medical and psychiatric services. Telehealth allows families to schedule appointments, therapy, and more in ways they never thought possible due to location, scheduling, and other factors. Telehealth for ABA, in particular, gives children more support and intervention by allowing them the opportunity to get more one-on-one time they wouldn’t necessarily get due to scheduling conflicts or transportation issues.

Ascend Autism offers telehealth for ABA therapy and other support services, such as early intervention programssocial skills programsparental support, and more. Contact us today to find out how we can support your child through telehealth and in-person options, including in-person and center-based therapy support.


Helping Children And Families Succeed!

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