At Home Or In A Center: A Case For Therapy In Mixed Locations

Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of therapy used to help children who are on the autism spectrum. The therapy is geared toward teaching the children daily life skills, socialization, and more. The therapy can be delivered at home or in centers/clinical settings, and the choice between the two is often presented as essentially zero-sum — one or the other. But there is a case to be made for having some therapy at home and some at a center. Assuming transportation is not an issue, you may want to ask about creating a treatment plan that includes a combination of settings.

Better Socialization Opportunities

Being in a center means being exposed to all sorts of people — different staff members, other kids, other therapists, different families, and so on. If your child needs to work on socialization, a center setting as an occasional therapy location is a great, safe way to get your child used to being around lots of different people. Interaction with others isn't exactly required — your child will progress on his or her own timeline — but once the child does want to interact, there will be plenty of people around for that.

Better Capability for Switching Between Settings

Moving therapy between home and a center means the child will have to go from one place to the other and back. This can help the child learn to adjust to different places and to adapt to a changing situation that is still gentle and familiar. Instead of staying at home or always being taken to the center for what seems like school, your child can spend some time at home learning new skills, and other days at the center, getting used to the life skills needed to go places.

Better Use of Everyday, Applicable Situations

So far this sounds pretty positive on going to a center, but the at-home therapy will be just as important. In a center, the child is in artificial surroundings — a clinic room, some provided toys, and so on. During in home ABA services, the child can see how the therapy applies in real life to those items the child uses daily. The child can practice requesting as lunchtime approaches at home or can practice helping out when picking up toys in his or her room. The connection between the skills the therapy teaches and the way those skills need to be used in real life is a little stronger.

Your child's treatment plan will be customized, so you'll be able to work out with the therapists when it might be best for the child to have therapy at home. A combination of locations allows for great flexibility.