Need an autism evaluation for your child? We can help.

Center-Based ABA vs. In-Home ABA Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy uses the science of learning and behavior to address challenging behaviors and increase a range of skills such as, language and communication, attention, social skills, and self-help skills. ABA therapy is individualized, designed to address the specific needs of each person and family. ABA therapy can be provided in a variety of locations such as in the school district, in the community, in-home and in a center-based setting. The most common settings for ABA therapy are in-home and center-based ABA therapy and each approach comes with its own unique benefits and advantages depending on what is most needed for the child. Knowing the differences between these two types of treatment locations can help determine which setting is right for your child.

Center-Based ABA Therapy

Choosing center-based ABA therapy involves treatment services in a setting in which other peers are present throughout the day. Center-based instruction provides a setting which typically resembles a school-like setting. For example, The Place for Children with Autism has a center-based model and therapy is provided in a setting which mimics a school with access to activities such as circle time, music, art, dance, and group activities throughout the day. A team of behavior technicians provides 1:1 therapy with the child and works daily on increasing critical skills such as communication, social skills, independent living skills, reducing challenging behaviors and increasing school-readiness. Therapy is overseen by a master’s level board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA).

Benefits of Center-Based Therapy

  • Structure: services provided in a center can create a sense of structure that is helpful to developing new skills and learning and adjusting to schedules and routines. Receiving services in a center can help avoid distractions that might be present in a home and allow a child to recognize that this unique center location is a space for learning which can promote faster skill acquisition.
  • Supervision: with center-based therapy, there is a larger number of trained behavioral technicians and BCBAs. The increased number of skilled professionals allows for more support for your child. Whereas in the home setting a BCBA might visit a therapy session once a week or twice a month, in a center-based location there is typically a BCBA present every day to provide on-going training to behavior technician and more oversight of your child’s treatment plan.
  • Mimics typical school environments: if your goal is to transition your child into a school-based setting when they are ready, then center-based therapy may be best for you. Being in a structured environment similar to a school setting can develop the skills needed to integrate into those settings more seamlessly when the time is right.
  • Social skills: conducting therapy sessions with other children gives an opportunity to work on additional social skills targets throughout the day. By being surrounded by peers, your child will be able to work on skills such as:
    • Taking turns
    • Peer play
    • Social interactions and social communication training with peers
    • Group instruction

Home-Based ABA Therapy

Choosing home-based ABA therapy involves treatment services being provided directly in your home. A BCBA and a team of behavior technicians utilize the child’s natural environment to work on skill acquisition targets and behavior reduction as needed.

Benefits of Home-Based ABA Therapy

  • Convenience: home-based treatments provide a convenience of services being provided directly in your home without the need to travel to another location. All the items needed to render therapy are within your home.
  • Learning in the natural environment: being able to target skills in a familiar environment can allow a child to feel more secure while learning. It can be beneficial to address adaptive (self-help) skills where they are more likely to occur. In-home therapy is a good setting to work on skills such as:
    • Dressing
    • Feeding
    • Grooming skills (toileting, brushing teeth, showering)
    • Chores
  • Parent and family involvement: with therapy being conducted surrounding family members can have a greater impact on skill acquisition and behavioral challenges. Home-based therapy allows for more direct parent training and sibling involvement.

Both in-home ABA therapy and center-based ABA therapy have unique advantages depending on your families’ unique needs and values. If your child is in the most need of increasing social communication, social skills, and getting more prepared for a school setting, a center-based provider might be the most optimal choice. If your main goals are more parent coaching, increasing your child’s independent living skills (e.g., chores, dress, toothbrushing, etc.), and reducing challenging behavior, a home-setting might be the better choice. At the end of the day, a family should consider all options and select which environment might be best suited for their child.

Author: Kailey Rawston, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, The Place for Children with Autism

We Change Lives Every Day

Interested in our services and inquiring about placement for your child?
We are now enrolling ages 2-6. Reach out today!

Get Started