How Much Does ABA Therapy for Autism Cost? (2023)

How Much Does ABA Therapy for Autism Cost? (1)

ByCarol Tatom, RBT

February 1, 2022

If you’re the parent of a child who has recently been diagnosed with autism, ensuring he/she receives the best support is likely to be at the top of your agenda.

How Much Does ABA Therapy for Autism Cost? (2)ABA therapy, otherwise known as Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, monitors behavioral changes to identify whether a child’s social development and communication skills are progressing while implementing the right steps to ensure that struggling individuals can get back on track.

ABA therapy is a long-standing treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and can be used in a wide range of settings, including home based and in the classroom.

However, with some children requiring up to 40 hours of ABA therapy every week in order to unlock its full potential, paying for it can be a scary prospect. The key is to enter the process with transparency. This guide should provide all you need to know.

How much does ABA therapy cost per year?

When you complete the most basic research into the cost of ABA therapy in the U.S., the figure of $120 per hour with a board-certified ABA therapist is likely to scare you.

After all, simple maths shows that even a few hours each week could cost you dearly:

  • 10 hours per week x $120 = $1,200 per week or $62,400 per year
  • 20 hours per week x $120 = $2,400 per week or $124,800 per year
  • 40 hours per week x $120 = $4,800 per week or $249,600 per year

Quite frankly, those figures make therapy a challenge for many families. Some families might not be able to afford enough hours each week for an ABA therapist to build a rapport or fully analyze their child’s behavioral changes. So, does that mean you should give up? Not at all…

Contributing factors

There are many contributing factors that can influence the overall expense of ABA therapy. Some of the most telling aspects are;

  • The severity of autism experienced by the individual child
  • Geographic location, as well as the supply and demand of ABA therapists
  • How many hours are required every week (the good news is that 10-20 is usually more than enough)
  • The individual ABA therapist’s experience levels and desired rates
  • Length of time (in months or years) spent with the ABA specialist
  • Where the ABA therapy will take place

Even the above features show that the situation isn’t quite as daunting as it seems at the first glance. In truth, the calculation of multiplying the hours per month by $120 is unlikely to be accurate and your overall bill will be far smaller.

Meanwhile, parents that cannot afford board-certified ABA therapist may look for help from other pediatric caregivers. However, aside from the fact it could compromise the level of support, it may also exclude you from some of the alternative funding methods. And, as we’re about to find out, there are plenty.

What are the different ways to approach and fund ABA therapy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with autism can need anywhere between $17,000 and $21,000 per year in extra care compared to neurotypical kids. This covers medical appointments and other additional care, as well as therapies like ABA. It is far too much money for most families to find, which is something the authorities do tend to appreciate.

Given that a lot of children (around 1 in 50 eight-year-olds, for example) fall onto the spectrum, it is an area of care where funding support is available. The most common alternatives are;

  • State-funded ABA therapy funding
  • ABA therapy covered by insurance firms
  • School-funded ABA therapy
  • Scholarships and ABA financial assistance
  • ABA therapy through Private Payment

State-funded ABA therapy funding

State-funded ABA therapy is commonly viewed as something of a last resort when the alternatives are not available. Many states offer a solution of some sort. Nevertheless, the contrast in support offered from one geographic territory to the next is an issue that frustrates many parents.

The process can cover the cost of ABA therapy while also providing parents with valuable materials needed to further support their child. Some of the best states are;

  • California – offers grants to offset treatment costs with no age limit or maximum therapy cost
  • Colorado – requires insurers to cover the full ABA therapy costs, with no age limit
  • Indiana – offers grants to offset treatment costs with no age limit or maximum therapy cost
  • New Jersey – offers various grants to offset ABA therapy costs for children up to the age of 21
  • New York – covers up to $45,000 in ABA therapy costs for autistic individuals of any age
  • Vermont – covers children up to the age of 21 with no limit on cost or session frequency

How Much Does ABA Therapy for Autism Cost? (4)

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ABA therapy covered by insurance companies

Insurance-covered ABA therapy is a very common solution, not least because insurance companies are mandated to cover autism treatment in several states.

When you use insurance coverage, you will only be required to pay the agreed deductible. So, if your contract has a $50 deductible, you’ll need to pay this amount for each session. However if your child received four sessions of three hours each week, the $200 fee is far more affordable than covering the costs from your pocket.

Over a year, though, this equates to $10,000 even if your child receives a two-week break from the sessions. Many state schemes will cover these costs too, though. So, you’ll either gain a highly discounted solution or an entirely free level of care.

School-funded ABA therapy

School-funded ABA therapy may come directly from your child’s school itself or courtesy of the school district. In either case, the authorities may wish to run assessments first to find out what you may require. Following approval, though, your child’s therapy costs will be 100% covered.

The ABA therapists used in these situations could be agency staff or hired directly by the district to serve schools in the area. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst will provide supervision while developments will be reported via the school’s Individualized Education Plan.

Scholarships and ABA financial assistance

Financial centers may offer scholarships and other financial assistance packages for children needing ABA therapy.

The exact details of the programs will depend on the individual financial center and their criteria, but applicants can expect to gain significant support. Scholarships will ensure your child receives ABA funding for the appropriate duration to aid their academic development.

Other financial support won’t always cover the full costs, but it should cushion the blow of paying 100% of the fees out of pocket.

ABA therapy through Private Payment

Private Payment for ABA therapy is linked to employers and work organizations, who will use the child’s trust to cover a partial payment for the sake of your child’s educational purposes.

The exact level of care will be determined by the organization’s trust details, as well as your family household income. Meanwhile, the funding gained through this method sometimes uses a sliding scale, which is something you’ll need to investigate.

While this model won’t cover the full cost of ABA therapy, it does bring the hourly rate down to as little as $20 depending on individual circumstances, thus reducing the costs by over 80% compared to what you first feared.

Is ABA therapy worth the expense?

Successful ABA therapy with a professional therapist can help children on the autism spectrum grow emotionally and socially through a range of communication skills. While the strategies (and therefore results) will vary from child to child, the most common improvements seen in clients are;

  • Increased focus when studying
  • Improved connections with friends and family
  • Fewer tantrums and reduced self-harm behaviors
  • More effective communication with strangers
  • Asking for items clearly

Essentially, then, ABA therapy is shown to promote improved behavior, social skills, and quality of life for the patient. Quite frankly, if those rewards are achieved, they are priceless for any parent to see.

Furthermore, while the therapy isn’t cheap, it should be noted that it doesn’t last forever. Most kids are treated for a maximum of three years while many are discharged even earlier.

How Much Does ABA Therapy for Autism Cost? (5)

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When coupled with the fact it could save you money on other treatments or investments used to make life a little more comfortable for your child, it’s clear that ABA therapy can be a smart decision for parents to make.

The key, of course, is to link up with a board-certified therapist who shows a great understanding of your child’s needs and can create tailored plans that provide support in the areas where he/she needs it most.


Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is a popular tool for helping children with autism develop life skills. While ABA is expensive, up to $120 per hour on average, keep in mind the plethora of potential benefits which could make it a priceless addition to your child’s life. Despite the fact that most individuals require anywhere between 10-20 hours a week (and potentially up to 40) for up to three years, parents can bring the costs down through any of the methods above.

If still you are unsure which funding method or services are best, it is advisable that you speak to an agent.

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How much does ABA therapy cost in USA? ›

ABA therapy costs $62,400 to $249,600 per year without insurance coverage. The monthly costs for ABA therapy can range from $4,800 to over $20,000 per month without insurance coverage. Weekly costs for ABA therapy start at $1,200, and can go up to $4,800 without insurance coverage.

Is ABA expensive? ›

Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is a popular tool for helping children with autism develop life skills. While ABA is expensive, up to $120 per hour on average, keep in mind the plethora of potential benefits which could make it a priceless addition to your child's life.

How many times a week should you do ABA? ›

Comprehensive Treatment Plan

Comprehensive ABA treatment is a larger commitment. It typically consists of 26-40 hours of one-on-one direct therapy each week. This type of intensive treatment program will be recommended when a child shows deficits in the majority of developmental domains.

What is the best age to start ABA therapy? ›

Most children are between 2 and 6 years old when they begin ABA treatment. If a child starts at age 2, ABA can help him develop better communication skills and help him learn to follow directions and simple commands, to prepare him for pre-school.

Is ABA therapy a cure for autism? ›

There is no cure for autism, but experts agree that the best way to manage symptoms and develop independence skills is through ABA therapy. It's important to remember that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complicated condition that presents differently in every individual.

What is the success rate of ABA? ›

He concluded that 90% of children make substantial gains through ABA therapy (Lovaas, O. I. 55: 3-9). Lovaas added that 47% of the children studied during his research were “indistinguishable from their peers” after receiving intensive ABA therapy (Lovaas, O. I.

Why is ABA so expensive? ›

The therapy is intensive and conducted several times a week, sometimes even every day, in as many as 40 hours a week. Because of the intense, one-on-one nature of the therapy, ABA is expensive— costing as much as $60,000 a year.

What are the negative effects of ABA therapy? ›

5 Risks of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • The cost. ...
  • One size doesn't fit all. ...
  • Others may not reinforce, or may resist, behavioral changes. ...
  • The patient may become frustrated or upset during therapy. ...
  • Addressing behavior alone can mask something else.

What are the disadvantages of ABA? ›

The cons of ABA therapy
  • ABA therapy is time-consuming. Studies have shown that intensity and duration are key to effective ABA treatment. ...
  • The results of ABA therapy are not immediate. ABA therapy is not a quick fix. ...
  • ABA therapy can be expensive without insurance.
Mar 4, 2022

How long should a child be in ABA? ›

The average kid is in ABA therapy for roughly 2-3 years of intensive therapy followed by maybe 2-3 more years of a focused approach. There will be situations where the parent notices different behaviors at home that the therapist can't.

How long do ABA sessions last? ›

ABA therapy sessions will range from 2 to 5 hours based on the need of the particular child and the associated treatment objectives your Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and you have developed together. This implies they might require up to 40 hours of ABA therapy every week.

What can I do instead of ABA? ›

Alternatives to ABA Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) ...
  • Floortime Therapy. ...
  • Music Therapy. ...
  • Play Therapy. ...
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)‍ ...
  • Social Skills Group.
Nov 30, 2021

Do parents stay for ABA therapy? ›

Based on the data analysis, the parent or interventionist may choose to continue with the intervention or change the intervention to produce positive outcomes for the individual”.

What kind of kids need ABA therapy? ›

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through reinforcement strategies. Many experts consider ABA to be the gold-standard treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental conditions.

What are the pros and cons of ABA therapy? ›

Pros and Cons of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • PRO - Research Supports ABA as an Effective Treatment. ...
  • CON - Time and Cost Can Be Prohibitive. ...
  • PRO - Well Trained Professionals. ...
  • CON - Qualified Therapists May Be Hard to Find. ...
  • PRO - Customization and Personalization of ABA Programs. ...
  • CON - Robotic Results.
Jun 18, 2013

Can mild autism go away? ›

Unfortunately, no. There's no way to grow out of autism. An autism diagnosis will last for a person's lifetime, and treatment is intended to lower the reactions and characteristics of symptoms. As a developmental disorder, autism has no known cure.

Does ABA cause trauma? ›

Respondents of all ages who were exposed to ABA were 86 percent more likely to meet the PTSD criteria than respondents who were not exposed to ABA. Adults and children both had increased chances (41 and 130 percent, respectively) of meeting the PTSD criteria if they were exposed to ABA.

Which treatment is best for autism? ›

Behavioral approaches have the most evidence for treating symptoms of ASD. They have become widely accepted among educators and healthcare professionals and are used in many schools and treatment clinics. A notable behavioral treatment for people with ASD is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

What happens if ABA therapy doesn't work? ›

If your child is not showing any progress even after sticking to the ABA program for some time, you should consider changing therapists or pausing the treatments.

What is the gold standard for autism? ›

This thorough review often takes into account the results of standardized tools – such as observations and interviews – that offer a uniform way to define behaviors. This approach for diagnosing ASD, also known as clinical judgment, is considered the “gold standard” in ASD classification.

What is the gold standard treatment for autism? ›

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is widely considered to be the gold standard for autism treatment.

Is ABA good for high functioning autism? ›

Navigating the world of autism treatment options can be overwhelming when each child's needs and symptoms differ. However, applied behavioral analysis provides the framework and support parents need to help children with high functioning autism.

Which state has the best ABA therapy? ›

We found that Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the most supportive states overall.
Insurance coverageRanks 4th
ABA therapy providers17
Sensory gyms2
1 more row
Apr 19, 2022

Is ABA therapy forever? ›

While ABA therapy does not mean forever, the tools and strategies we use during our sessions can last a lifetime.

What trauma is caused by ABA therapy? ›

One study showed that participants in ABA therapy were 86% more likely to develop PTSD. Though therapists may argue that they would never intentionally harm children, the ultimate push for someone to go against their very nature is damaging (Kupferstein, 2018).

What does a typical ABA session look like? ›

In a child's typical day in ABA therapy, every child works through therapy sessions in a block rotation schedule with various therapists – every session lasting 2 to 3 hours – to keep things fresh and allow the child to generalize across therapy styles.

Why do people leave ABA? ›

The primary reason that most ABA providers leave the field is simple: They began listening to autistic people that described the ABA they experienced in childhood as abusive and harmful.

Should I put my child in ABA therapy? ›

As such, an ABA program should be considered if the child diagnosed with ASD is having some significant problematic behaviors that would interfere with his/her learning or that would place teacher and/or peers at risk of harm.

Is long term ABA abuse? ›

Today, ABA therapy and DTT are entirely safe for the autistic, using no form of physical punishment to drive behaviors in clients. The methods used so many years ago have long been discontinued and replaced with more effective and non-damaging ways of promoting positive reinforcement.

Is there punishment in ABA? ›

There are 2 types of punishment described in ABA: positive and negative punishment. Positive punishment is evident when something is added after the behavior occurs, and the behavior decreases.

Does ABA help with speech? ›

ABA and speech therapy are similar in that they can be used to treat people with speech and language difficulties. They also have similar goals of helping people become autonomous and successful with communication outside of therapy.

What is high functioning autism? ›

“High-functioning autism” isn't an official medical term or diagnosis. It's an informal one some people use when they talk about people with an autism spectrum disorder who can speak, read, write, and handle basic life skills like eating and getting dressed. They can live independently.

How often should a child receive ABA therapy? ›

It's recommended that your child gets 2-5 hours of ABA therapy per day. Children with autism will need between 10-40 hours of ABA therapy per week. Parents should expect their child to receive 40-120 hours of ABA therapy per month.

Can you do ABA everyday? ›

ABA is also intense, with treatment being prescribed daily, up to 40 hours per week. This is a significant departure from the typical service model, which typically would involve monthly or weekly visits, often for as little as 30 minutes per week.

What is the next step after ABA? ›

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) open_in_new is a graduate-level certification in the field of ABA. BCBAs are practitioners who work independently, to provide a range of services to clients in order to help them modify their behaviors, meet behavior-related goals, and improve their overall quality of life.

Why do people disagree with ABA? ›

Studies have shown that ABA is effective, but some parents and autistic self-advocates do not support its use. One criticism of ABA is that the earliest version of it used punishments as well as rewards. Punishments are no longer used in ABA, but critics think it is still too hard on kids because it is so repetitive.

Can you do ABA at home? ›

In-home ABA therapy helps parents and caregivers take a more active role in their child's autism treatment. Parents can watch and learn during the sessions, which can help you better understand how to support your child's skill development.

Does ABA work for everyone? ›

Even though ABA is a kind of therapy often associated with those diagnosed with autism, the truth is that almost anyone who has a behavior they wish to change can benefit from it. And many do. There is no one demographic that ABA is exclusively for.

Is ABA covered for ADHD? ›

All Covered California plans must cover ABA therapy for eligible persons.

Is ABA therapy free in Texas? ›

After a hard battle, Medicaid now covers ABA therapy for children with autism in Texas. Beneficiaries must satisfy the conditions established in the Autism Services benefit description, and the treatment must be deemed medically required.

How much does ABA cost in Texas? ›

ABA therapy typically costs about $120 per hour, which can add up to $4,800 per week for a child receiving 40 hours of therapy. That means intensive ABA therapy can cost about $250,000 per year without insurance.

How long do kids stay in ABA? ›

The average kid is in ABA therapy for roughly 2-3 years of intensive therapy followed by maybe 2-3 more years of a focused approach. There will be situations where the parent notices different behaviors at home that the therapist can't.

Can mild autism go to normal school? ›

Autism has a wide spectrum and not every individual with autism can find a place in mainstream schools. However, I have had a few success stories where the right support and timely intervention helped. Several students from my schools were able to successfully complete their education from mainstream schools.

What are the cons of ABA therapy? ›

The cons of ABA therapy
  • ABA therapy is time-consuming. Studies have shown that intensity and duration are key to effective ABA treatment. ...
  • The results of ABA therapy are not immediate. ABA therapy is not a quick fix. ...
  • ABA therapy can be expensive without insurance.
Mar 4, 2022

What diagnosis does ABA treat? ›

ABA is a therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. It is typically used to help people with autism and other developmental disorders learn behaviors that help them live safer and more fulfilling lives.

What will ABA do for my child? ›

ABA therapy programs can help:

Increase language and communication skills. Improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics. Decrease problem behaviors.

Can I get paid to stay home with my autistic child in Texas? ›

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

Parents who have been deemed caregivers are granted a specific number of paid hours every month so your child can remain safely in his own home, as it is considered an alternative to out-of-home care such as board and care facilities.

How much does a child with autism get from SSI? ›

So, how much is a disability check for autism? There isn't a simple answer to this question because every child and their parents will be treated as an individual case, and this will impact how much they receive each month. Currently, the full benefit amount is $841 a month.

Does insurance cover ABA in Texas? ›

January 28, 2022

Effective February 1, 2022, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a covered benefit for Medicaid enrollees in Texas who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Do you have to have an autism diagnosis for ABA? ›

But, you may be wondering, can you get ABA therapy without an autism diagnosis? Absolutely, ABA therapy without autism can be extremely effective for a range of cognitive disorders, behavioral problems, developmental delays, and even injuries or diseases affecting cognition and behavior.

Is ABA therapy everyday? ›

ABA is also intense, with treatment being prescribed daily, up to 40 hours per week. This is a significant departure from the typical service model, which typically would involve monthly or weekly visits, often for as little as 30 minutes per week.

Does Texas Medicaid pay for ABA therapy? ›

We are excited to announce that ABA therapy is now covered by Texas Medicaid! Effective February 1, 2022, ABA became a covered benefit. This groundbreaking change will impact families across Texas and allows children ages 20 and under to receive coverage for ABA services.


1. How can I afford ABA?
(Autism Live)
2. Why Is ABA Therapy So Expensive? | Side by Side ABA Therapy
(Autism & ABA Therapy Tips for Parents in 2022)
3. Does ABA Harm Autistic People? - 5 Objections to ABA for Autism
(Neurodivergent Rebel)
4. Understanding Health Insurance for ABA therapy
(Success On The Spectrum)
5. How ABA Insurance Coverage Works
(Behavior Nation)
6. Isn't 40 hours of ABA too much?
(Autism Live)


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