The length of time that a patient will spend receiving applied behavior analysis therapy will depend on many factors. There isn’t a set time frame that the analyst can state with any certainty. The time frame will depend on the age of the patient, the diagnosis and behaviors to be changed and the family’s insurance coverage.
Type of Diagnosis
When small children are diagnosed with autism that hits the spectrum at any point, they’ll be evaluated to determine what areas need work. It could be speech, writing or certain behaviors that need to be addressed. ABA therapy can take hours each day and continue for months or years depending on the behaviors to be addressed. While one behavior might be tackled and success achieved, another behavior could take its place. It helps to have the patient focus on one desired outcome at a time. The child could master eating a variety of foods before working on sitting at the table properly during dinner time.
Behavior to be Modified
The behavior to be changed determines the length of time it takes to see success. A child who has an aversion to trying new foods limits their diet tremendously, but it can take a long time for the analyst to alter that behavior. Learning to read and write can take some time as it would for most children, but there’s an added layer of work involved in teaching an autistic child. If the behavior is exhibited by a teenager, there’s a layer of stubbornness or rebellion that could come into play during therapy too.
The support of family can hasten along the process. When a child is diagnosed early as mentioned in this CNN article, there is a greater chance of success with treatment. There has to be consistency in the home for any of the therapy to work properly. When there is a limited amount of consistency between therapy and home, there will be a limited amount of success. It could be slow since it’s not being practiced in the home outside of the therapy sessions. The analyst can find it helpful to teach the parents what is needed to see success from the treatment plan when they follow through at home.
Tasks of the Treatment Plan
If the child needs to learn to write, sit at the table during dinner, learn to read, try different foods and stop having tantrums, that can take a very long time even with intense therapy each day. The same is true of the behaviors of a teenager or young adult who is in therapy to stop harmful behaviors. The tasks on the treatment plan can evolve as the child or young adult sees success and improvement.
One of the biggest influences on the length of therapy is what the insurance company will cover as treatment progresses. If they won’t cover the right amount of therapy each week according to what the analyst believes will be needed, the process could take much longer. Instead of seeing success in a few weeks, it could take a few months.
The length of time that it takes to see a completion in therapy will depend on the factors above. There are times when a child will become old enough for a different kind of therapy environment too. That will influence the length of treatment with a certain analyst.