Center or Home-Based Services?
All parents have a series of difficult decisions to navigate when it comes to raising a child. Parents of a child with autism are often faced with additional stressors and decisions.
We hope that this blog will help make choosing your loved one’s therapy setting simpler.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the science of behavior: examining why people do what they do and using this information to determine how to most effectively teach new skills as well as decrease and replace maladaptive behavior—in short, to improve people’s lives. ABA is widely recognized as the best treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Surgeon General, and American Medical Association, among others. It is widely accepted as the most effective form of autism therapy.
Historically, ABA services have typically been provided as an in-home intervention. Families opened their homes to the intervention team, scheduled around sessions and benefitted from the hands-on training available to them. Recently, the field is seeing a shift towards more providers offering center-based services. In this model, parents bring their child to a center where children participate in intervention programming, and parents may stay and observe or drop their child off. So how’s a family to choose?
First, a caveat: as every quality provider will tell you, a family’s involvement and engagement with the ABA program is critical and powerful in impacting a child’s progress—regardless of the service model. So first and foremost, I encourage parents to find a service provider that values family involvement and offers on-going parent coaching. Second, there needs to be flexibility from the service provider in either approach. Depending on the skill to be learned or the behavior to be addressed, sessions across all environments may be key.
There are potential benefits and drawbacks with each service model, but my experience leads me to favor the center-based model. This treatment model allows for increased social opportunities as well as frequent treatment and supervision from the clinicians responsible for tracking progress. Further, it creates more opportunities for generalization since the child is outside of his or her typical environment. Receiving treatment in an environment that is specifically optimized for learning helps prepare that child to benefit from other learning environments as well.
I have been in the privileged position of helping families transition from home-based to center-based services over the last few years. There were common concerns from families as they prepared to enter center-based services:
- How will I know what is being targeted in session?
- How will we be able to address the behavioral concerns we have at home?
Answers to those questions emerged as parents experienced joining or observing center sessions and receiving regular meetings and coaching from the program Clinician. The feedback that I repeatedly received months into the transition was that families were seeing continued or even improved progress—particularly with social skills with peers. To parents’ surprise, having their child in center-based services had improved the family’s sense of balance and quality of life as well. They reported having more freedom and flexibility with their schedules because they could participate in session when they wanted to but they also had time freed up to run errands and spend time with their other children to an extent they hadn’t experienced with the home-based model.
In short, finding a service provider that partners with you to map out the dreams you have for your child and your family is the first step. When given the option, I encourage you to be open to exploring center-based services and all that this service model has to offer.
5 Responses to “Center or Home-Based Services?”
I would love a list of center-based ABA therapy programs. I believe my child will benefit from it more so than home-based. It is very difficult to find programs that offer center-based.
This is awesome…. what about supervisor or any leadership staff available on those days?
I would love to have a center-based ABA therapy programs. Both our children have had a center-based ABA therapy and I definitely seeing a social and behavioral improvement. Hopefully they will open one in Tri-Valley area.
I have an 8yr old autistic grandson. He is non-verbal and not potty trained. I am looking for some help so that my stepdaughter can work.
My son was diagnosed with autism 3 years ago ,he has de medicaid waiver,we are looking for aba therapy for him ,please if you have an opening let me know you can email me or call me at this phone number 719)4477388