Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a method used to teach people with mental disabilities how to perform neurotypical tasks. The system focuses on rewarding desired behavior. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are the primary targets of ABA.
While current science backs ABA, the practice continues to meet opposition. Here are the top 5 problems with ABA therapy today.
Patients often find funding ABA to be challenging. The therapy requires extensive one-on-one interactions between a patient and a certified professional. With the rates these professionals charge, many would-be clients are unable to afford the help they need.
Healthline estimates an hour of ABA costs $120. For consistency, health professionals recommend 10 to 20 hours of therapy per week. The more extreme cases may need as many as 40 hours a week. Even with this consistent regime, patients can take up to three years to improve. In most cases, though, patients see progress after a few months. If we were to calculate 10 hours a week for three months, it would cost roughly $14,400. For many, this treatment is not affordable.
Even for patients who can afford ABA, certified therapists are hard to find. A 2019 study by Psychiatry Online suggests that a minimum of 8.1behavioral analysts are needed to give comprehensive therapy to 100 children with ASD. This same study shows that only Massachusetts exceeded the number of therapists needed with 8.8 ABA providers per 100 children. The other 49 states and Washington D.C. fell short of this mark.
For those in need of ABA, the Northeast is the highest therapist density section of the U.S. Regions. It experienced higher ABA presence with higher per-household income and higher public education spending.
In the past, ABA was far more focused on negative reinforcement. This practice caused many onlookers to call the therapy cruel and harmful to a child’s mental health. Today, positive reinforcement is the primary method of incentivizing behavior. Unwanted behavior is typically ignored instead of punished.
Earlier ABA therapists tried to eliminate behavior that did not harm the patient or people around them. For example, ADS patients often engage in repetitive movements to stabilize their emotions. Stimming, the name for these movements, is no longer punished. Now, modern therapists save energy by ignoring harmless neuro divergent actions.
Parents or guardians can use ABA effectively if they learn the proper techniques to deal with their children. This option is often preferable since it eliminates therapy costs and gives a guardian a better understanding of their child’s mental state. Additionally, ABA problem solving provides parents with tools to handle situations even outside of therapy.
However, parents can actively undermine the work a therapist has put in. This regression typically occurs when parents give feedback that is inconsistent with professional standards. A child with ASD is especially susceptible to confusion. ABA therapy for autism teaches that consistent reinforcement is crucial for sustained progress.
ABA parent training suggests working with parents collaboratively instead of treating them as a student. A guardian's knowledge of the child is as invaluable to a therapist as the therapist's technical knowledge is to the guardian. Combining their information can create personalized approach to each patient that maximizes the chance of improvement.
The recent pandemic has limited the physical contact a therapist can have with their patient. As such, telehealth services substitute in-person contact.
Telehealth consulting has a few advantages:
● It notably reduces the cost of a standard therapy session.
● It gives parents in ABA-limited areas a chance to access a therapist.
● It reduces the physical burden therapists endure within-person meetings.
However, telehealth creates greater disadvantages than advantages for ABA. Many of the most effective techniques require an in-person presence. Additionally, a therapist cannot remove distractions from their patient’s room over a video call. These limitations can have devastating effects on learning outcomes.
Plutus Health has been providing ABA billing solutions for more than 5 years now. As a leading ABA billing services company, our team knows the intricacies of billing and how to maximize reimbursement for our providers. Contact us to see how we can help you.
1. High costs limit the number of patients who can afford therapy.
2. Fewer certified ABA professionals exist than can meet the demand of ASD children.
3. Historic incompetence biases many people against ABA therapy.
4. Preparing parents to provide therapy themselves is difficult and time-consuming.
5. Covid-19 forces meetings into the digital sphere where many techniques are less effective.
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