Health & Fitness

How Many ABA Therapy Hours Does My Child Need?

With parents opting for ABA therapy Chicago for their child, they often ponder over several questions, such as when is the best time to get their child enrolled in therapy, and how many hours will their child need.

Standard Hours Recommended for ABA Therapy

Experts and professionals recommend that a child needs to have 40 hours of ABA therapy each week in order for it to be successful. 

Numerous experts argue on this, but both the Lovaas Institute (which introduced the use of ABA therapy for Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (which trains ABA therapists) agree on 40 hours per week being the standard time period for the overall therapy to be effective.  

Even though this treatment timeline is quite intensive, the intensity decreases over time until the child ultimately no longer needs the therapy anymore, and can carry out tasks independently.  

But, it is still crucial to keep the child in therapy and treatment for as long as the ABA therapist and experts recommend. It has been seen that those individuals who actively participate in intensive treatment see better outcomes.

According to the Lovaas institute, the best outcomes will be achieved when a child will receive 40 hours each week of behavioral treatment. However, therapy intervention should always be individualized. Moreover, numerous factors such as the child’s age and current skill level will greatly impact the number of hours recommended each week. However, 40 hours per week still remains the standard from which to deviate.

Numerous children have greatly benefited from intensive and long-term ABA therapy. Even therapy lasting between 500 and 6,000 hours could prove to be enough in order to enhance and improve social skills in children, and also reduce problematic and undesired behavior, and promote academic achievement for the child’s entire lifetime. This way, the outcomes will be more effective in the long term as well.

ABA Therapy

Moreover, because ABA therapy is based on each child’s individual needs and special requirements. The length and intensity of each therapy session and the number of sessions they will need each week will differ. The exact protocol has to do entirely to each child’s needs and availability.

ABA therapy lasting for 40 hours a week does not generally mean the child will be at the therapy center on a full-time schedule. A combination of formats can be used. For instance, the child will need to go to the center on some days and have home visits on other days.

Determining ABA Therapy Duration with Respect to Severity

ABA therapy is recommended as a long-term and highly intensive treatment program for Autistic children, or children suffering from other developmental disorders. ‘Highly intensive’ means that the child will have to attend hours-long therapy sessions on a regular basis. This can last up to several months, or even several years. This often adds up to a minimum of 25 to 40 hours per week. Which will be divided into each day for a whole week.

It is important to know that the overall treatment regime of ABA often lasts anywhere from one to three years. However, the number of years or the number of hours the child will be needing the therapy. All comes down to the severity of the child’s diagnosis, as well as the age of the child.

Here we’re going to take a look at three levels of severity for children who are diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder:

 1.    Level 1:

This is the initial level of diagnosis, and is most commonly called “requiring support”. This is the least severe level of the 3, which means that the child does not show any symptoms or struggles with certain aspects due to their disorder. 

However, this might still mean that the child might still struggle in numerous other aspects, such as lack of communication skills, anxiety, stress, etc. Moreover, the child may still be quite inflexible in certain contexts and may also have problems in having switching between different activities. 

They will also lack organizing and planning skills, which can greatly affect their everyday life. However, with therapy and other interventions by therapists, such children can go on to lead a much easier balanced life.

2.    Level 2:

The second level is more severe than the first one mentioned above. And is also usually referred to as “requiring substantial support”. 

In this level of severity, the child suffers from inflexible behaviors, numerous skills deficits such as communication skills. And other social impairments that can have them struggling at work, school, or even close relationships. 

Moreover, such a child will also limit social interactions due to self-isolation. Problems with verbal communication, obsessive interests, and random and frequent outbursts as well. Behavior therapy will greatly help to significantly reduce such symptoms and struggles the child might be facing. But constant support is crucial throughout.

3.    Level 3:

The third level is referred to as “requiring very substantial support”. In simple words, it means that the child will be needing more than just behavior therapy. 

Apart from the necessary behavioral therapy. The child will also be in need of medical interventions such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. 

Because the child might be lacking several important motor skills problems and neurological issues, they will also need a caregiver as well. Moreover, the child will have problems in maintaining their focus. Will show frequent repetitive behaviors, and will avoid communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

Therefore, if we talk about children at Level 1. They might only need one or two therapy sessions per week in total. That too if the ABA therapist can work with the child’s parents or school administrators. In order to educate them on maintaining specific ABA practices outside of therapy. However, children at Level 3. On the other hand, will definitely be needing therapy that will last up to 40 hours per week. This means that such children will have to be enrolled in a special education program.


CAITIE C. is a digital marketing and SEO Expert working for multiple organizations to boost their business and online presence.

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