How Many Hours Of ABA Therapy Is Needed?

Learn how many hours of ABA therapy is needed + how long ABA therapy lasts.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
July 30th, 2022

Key Takeaways

  1. It's recommended that your child gets 2-5 hours of ABA therapy per day.
  2. Children with autism will need between 10-40 hours of ABA therapy per week.
  3. Parents should expect their child to receive 40-120 hours of ABA therapy per month.
  4. ABA sessions range from 2 to 5 hours based on the individual needs of the child

Per Day

The recommended number of hours for an autistic child ranges between 2 and 5 every day.

Getting ABA treatment for a child is a big decision for parents to make.

Autistic children require treatment that addresses their lack of behavioral development.

Children that are on the spectrum can learn at the same rate as non-autistic kids, but sometimes need a boost before moving on to normal schooling.

In the grand scheme of things, this is what ABA therapist seeks to accomplish.

To do that requires ABA courses, some of which can go on for weeks, months, or even years.

These courses are scheduled differently for every child. Some are long, others short.

Although the advised number of hours should be set on what a doctor thinks is best, most will assign five hours at the most, and two at the minimum.

Consideration of the parent’s working schedule is factored in, as are additional school hours if they’re already enrolled.

Children showing greater behavioral issues might have their extended at the beginning, then shortened as they make progress.

Per Week

Autism treatment typically involves 10-25 hours of ABA therapy every week.

However, some patients will need up to 40 hours of weekly therapy.

After becoming acquainted with the therapists that will treat your child, a session will commence.

Again, every child is different. It could be that yours has considerably fewer hours per week than average.

Those with severe symptoms might need more, at least temporarily.

Some ABA centers that are large might see more than one therapist join in on making the decision. Or the schedule could change up a bit every week.

When kids make fast progress, there’s no need to have them in therapy full time, unless the circumstances call for it.

The diagnosis is the single most important factor in judging how long your child will stay in therapy.

If other medical treatments must be done, this may also change the hours, even for kids with severe symptoms.

40 hours might seem like a lot for some parents, yet it will decrease once they begin to show advances in completing multiple goals.

Treatment for as long as possible should be prioritized.

It can benefit the well-being of parents and a child’s conduct and knowledge.

ABA therapy can be pricey and some states don’t require health insurance companies to cover the full cost or the costs at all.

Read More: ABA Therapy Cost

Another reason for refusing the hours might be the impact it has on parents being able to balance it with their work and the child’s school.

ABA centers might be a long distance away from where parents live or work, which could spell additional travel expenses.

But the 40-hour average is still a good thing for any autistic child, based on studies conducted by the BACB and numerous universities.

ABA therapy exists to achieve a better outcome for children.

For the outcome to show the results that parents want, a weekly schedule encompassing 40 hours is a provable way to mitigate or take away unhealthy behavior.

This average can also change when cognitive abilities and age are gauged.

Per Month

With ABA therapy, parents should expect their child to receive between 40 and 120 hours every month.

Most kids taking ABA courses are assigned to them over a time that spans longer than a month.

Do you expect your child to receive therapy for longer than four weeks?

If so, try to prepare for them to stay at the therapy full-time. This means that the hours could go as high as 120 for the whole month.

Hours are one way that therapists judge how well a child is coming along with the courses they’re assigned.

The more hours that are set for them at the onset of the therapy, the greater they are to learn quickly and advance themselves to the point of it being halved one to two months later.

It might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but the scheduling process is quite simple.

Your therapist will let you know the details of potential changes ahead of time.

Problems do up, unfortunately, so don’t be too surprised with an increase in hours happens if your child has problems in the first month.

There’s no surefire way of knowing what obstacles will be easy for a child to learn, and what necessitates additional time spent in therapy.

How Long Should ABA Sessions Be?

ABA sessions range from 2 to 5 hours based on the individual needs of the child and the associated treatment goals the BCBA and yourself have formed together.

how long is one aba session

Is ABA Therapy All Day?

At its longest, ABA therapy usually lasts a full business day, beginning in the morning and ending in the afternoon.

is aba therapy all day

Before your child begins ABA, there will be no way for you to know the amount of time they’ll spend at the center.

There will be parents and kids that prefer only an hour or two of therapy and others that don’t mind staying for a full day.

Parents generally have no problem with the hours, unless a conflict arises with their work or there’s an inability to pick them up at certain times of the day.

For those people, at-home ABA is an option.

Regardless of how long you stay at an ABA center, the chances of them getting bored there are low.

There will be many activities provided by therapists to keep them active and entertained between learning periods.

Their hidden abilities will manifest, including the way they interact with their peers and authority figures.

Every ABA session for all children is built with great care, including the time that’s needed for them to lower problematic behavior.

How Are ABA Hours Determined?

ABA hours are chosen based on the severity of their symptoms.

For most children in attendance at an ABA center, treatment will be moderate to long term.

The clinics are prepared to give hands-on sessions to many children, some of them divided up into classes.

It can be quite intensive for them, but it does get easier for everyone involved at a rapid pace.

The treatment is done regularly, in a setting that’s similar to school. There can be differences in how and where treatment is done.

Some might take place at home, school, or even outside on some days.

But children receive treatment for many hours, going into days, weeks, and sometimes years.

The days are partitioned by hours, so there is usually an equal amount of hours in therapy every day unless someday require them to be out of therapy.

On annual timescales, ABA therapy lasts for about three years.

This time, like the weeks, months, and hours, are carefully regimented and assigned according to their exhibited behavior.

Read More: How To Deal With Autistic Children

How Long Is ABA For Severe Autism?

For severe autism, children are recommended at least 40 hours of ABA therapy every week.

The severity of a child’s autism is gauged at three levels as per what’s indicated on the DSM-5. Level three is the most severe.

In this situation, the child is advised to take special education that’s specifically geared towards teaching children on the spectrum.

The therapy provided at this stage is called a Comprehensive Treatment Plan.

A week under this treatment lasts from 26 to 40 hours, consists of direct interaction with the child, and is done when there are clear developmental impediments shown.

As the treatment progresses, a child works on numerous assignments to raise their ability in behavioral learning and comprehension.

Things like tolerance building, language understanding, and gains in social skills are taught at level three.

And since many children at level three have issues with their behavior, skills to lower shouting, aggressiveness, and other self-harming instances are rigorously worked on until some improvement can be shown.

How Long Is ABA For Mild Autism?

ABA therapy for children with mild autism will last for one to two sessions weekly, consisting of about 10 hours total.

At its least, severe level autism falls under the level one treatment category. This is known as them requiring support.

It doesn’t mean that the child is advanced enough to avoid some of the same treatments given to other autistic kids at higher levels.

They can experience problems, socialize, talk, and learn as well.

Children at level one exhibit problems staying in one place, physically and when in the middle of performing a task.

Their tendency to become sidetracked easily sometimes interferes with their daily life, to the point of hindering their learning abilities.

Level two features much of the same problems as level one, but at higher severity.

Their symptoms can obstruct them from forming relationships with peers and their parents.

It could lead to them becoming and feeling isolated, even among their parents.

Behavior therapy can cause problems in both cases, especially when the set amount of hours for every level is followed.

How To Choose An ABA Therapy Schedule

ABA schedules should be chosen per a therapist’s recommendation.

ABA therapists rely on behavior that’s observed and detailed by the parents to create a schedule for children receiving therapy. Every pertinent detail related to their problems will be noted.

Therapists also work with families to learn about their schedules, to ensure that the time in session doesn’t conflict with one another.

These are decisions that parents and therapists agree on beforehand, for the sake of an autistic child’s well-being.

References

  1. https://westsidechildrenstherapy.com/how-many-aba-therapy-hours-does-your-child-need/
  2. https://www.elemy.com/studio/aba-therapy/how-many-hours/
  3. https://marybarbera.com/aba-therapy-how-many-hours/
  4. https://www.spectrumnews.org/opinion/viewpoint/how-much-behavioral-therapy-does-an-autistic-child-need/
  5. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-much-applied-behavioral-analysis-is-enough-259915
  6. https://childsplayplus.com/how-much-aba-is-enough/
  7. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-applied-behavior-analysis
steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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