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Cost Of ABA Therapy

Cost of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy programs can be provided by private companies and through government-contracted agencies.  They can be small local agencies or large regional or national groups. Moreover, they can be provided by consultants and therapists in separate packages. And ABA programs can even be provided through your local school district in many cases.

Usually, several tutors, a senior tutor/supervisor, and a consultant/case manager form a team to work with an autistic child. The consultant/case manager will normally be a Certified Applied Behavior Analyst and will be responsible for designing the child’s treatment program. Although tutors are not usually certified in ABA, they are trained by the service provider and are highly monitored.  Family members usually do 2 or 3 sessions per week. Many families prefer to hire tutors that are family members, or volunteers, such as from local church groups. And many families hire tutors through universities, or by placing ads.

Hours Needed

Most ABA therapy practitioners use the Lovaas Method developed at UCLA by Dr. Ivar Lovaas because of its documented effectiveness in studies. (Lovaas, 1987)  However, those studies showed the highest effectiveness when at least 30 to 40 hours of tutoring per week was provided in about 2 or 3-hour sessions. Some families use standard ABA therapy 5 days a week and work with the child on the general skills in the home on weekends.

Cost Considerations

The cost of an ABA program mainly depends on the form of the program, the way it’s structured, and the services that it provides. Families can minimize costs by applying some of the activities that are involved in the therapy themselves. Moreover, they can search for volunteers for support and borrow materials from toy libraries or autism associations to reduce costs. Most families go to their school district or to local or state agencies for services or funding.

ABA Specialized Schools

Children can be involved in schools that are specialized in ABA treatment. Most major cities and university towns typically have such schools. However, the cost of these schools is quite expensive, as the tuition fees may range between $16,000 and $25,000 a year. Parents in need may be offered scholarships by some schools.

Home Therapy

ABA therapy can take place at home using therapists in training, or undergraduates that have taken workshops in the ABA program. This might be expensive (typically ranging from $5000 to $20,000 a year) and it may require time prom the parents to organize time and structure the program, but it is far less than the $50,000 or more per year that a full-time professional ABA therapy team usually costs.


Lovaas, I. O. (1987). “Behavioral Treatment and Normal Educational and Intellectual Functioning in Young Autistic Children”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 3-9.

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Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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