Making a Decision on ABA at Home vs. in Center

A common question parents have when enrolling their child in an ABA therapy program is the location for treatment. Often, parents wonder if having ABA treatment at home is better than the center-based option and vice versa. Additionally, parents may be concerned that they may not have enough resources at home for the therapist to teach their child.

This article will cover the benefits of ABA therapy at home vs. center. As every child with autism has unique needs, there is no standardized treatment plan, and your behavior consultant will make recommendations based on your child’s needs. At AP, we provide both home-based and center-based therapy programs to offer unique benefits in both settings.

First, we need to understand the benefits each option provides. Home-based and center-based ABA therapy can help address concerns in different areas.

Home-Based ABA Therapy Provides:

Comfort, Familiarity, and Convenience

Home-based therapy may appeal to families who live further away and do not wish to travel to the center. As transitions can be challenging for some children, learning in a familiar environment can be helpful. This also eases your concerns as parents concerning safety and transition since home-based therapy eliminates the need to leave home, take transportation to the center, or enter a new environment. Behaviors can be addressed at home in a familiar climate before transition. The family will receive ongoing support integrated into their routine and schedule with a home-based therapy program.

Opportunities to Address Situations at Home

Our therapists will be able to address challenging situations at your home, such as toilet training. Hands-on parent or caregiver training can also be conducted at home. It is also imperative to have your consultant assess unique situations at home, to customize a treatment plan that can help you manage behaviors or teach your child at home.

Center-Based ABA Therapy Provides:

Structured Environments

AP center offers a highly structured environment which is important in helping children build a strong foundation. This provides a predictable and conducive environment for learning, allowing your child to develop pivotal skills. The center is a positive environment that will enable children to learn, be supervised, and accomplish their goals more efficiently.

School Preparation and Stimulation

For most children preparing to go to school, being at the center allows children to learn various skills, including daily routines in preparation for school. Centers dedicated to teaching children on the spectrum tend to have resources, safety precautions, and learning environments necessary to improve behavior and learning outcomes.

Social Opportunities

Center-based therapy also offers children on the spectrum more opportunities to engage socially. This provides them with a better foundation for acquiring social skills that can be useful for one’s long-term success. The social aspect is further enhanced by participating in group activities that can pique social interests which is not possible in home-based treatment.

In Summary:

A great deal of debate has been generated around whether services delivered in a center are better than those delivered at home. Research indicates the best program could be a hybrid mix of home-based and center-based services. There is evidence that center-based programs help children develop their social communication skills. On the other hand, home-based programs led to children gaining self-help skills in a more natural setting. As mentioned earlier, every child can make further progress in different environments. Depending on the program’s goals, the behavior consultant will customize a treatment plan that benefits your child.

Regardless of the location, the ABA treatment is provided, your involvement as a parent is critical to your child’s progress. We emphasize Parent and Caregiver Training as a consistent continuation of programs at home and in the community that allow the child to be immersed in the intervention. Other variables can also affect the treatment.

According to a study conducted in 2011, children with the best possible outcomes had these critical elements in common:

  • Early Intervention
  • Consistency of Treatment
  • Intensity
  • Utilizing Quality ABA (Autism Partnership Method)
  • Intensive Supervision
  • Parental Expertise
  • Not Incorporating Other Treatment (Diluting Impact of ABA)
Ms. Wong Mai Shan

BSc. Edu
Site Director

Information provided by:

Wong Mai Shan holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Oregon. Upon graduation, she was in charge of designing and setting up a preschool program at a local kindergarten. Following that, she was a Supervisor at a childcare centre. Since 1989, she has been working with children who have special needs. During her time at Dover Court Preparatory school, she was appointed the Centre Co-coordinator and worked with a wide range of children with different disabilities.

Her work with children with special needs continued at Horizon Centre for Special Education, where she was involved in the integration process of her students. She has been working with children with autism in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 2001. She served as Autism Partnership’s school supervisor and oversaw the school program, Little Learners.

Mai Shan is presently the Clinical Director at AP Singapore, supervising case programs and overseeing training and development of staff. She is also a Behavior Consultant, providing services to families in Singapore and regionally.

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