ABA therapy for autism applies the principles of learning to teach socially significant behaviors in a safe clinic environment. It is proven to be effective in treatment in the health and support of autistic children.
What is ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy is an evidence-based treatment for children with autism and used to address individual needs in the areas of cognitive, behavioral, social, and executive functioning. ABA therapy, or applied behavioral analysis, is recommended as the best practice treatment for individuals with autism by both the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. ABA Therapy is often provided in a clinic setting where behavior skills outcomes and success rates are shown to be the highest for autistic children.
Every autistic child presents signs differently. Their behaviors can span the different areas of development and be presented mildly or severely. Westside offers an Autism Screening Quiz. Please note that it is only meant as a quick screener for parents to validate if any behavioral program can help and is not a formal assessment or diagnosis.
After taking the autism screening, if you think you and your child needs or could benefit from a more formal diagnostic evaluation, Westside Children’s Therapy also offers autism testing, diagnostics, and treatment support. A reliable autism diagnosis and behaviors & skills analysis for a potentially autistic child can happen as early by age 2.
At Westside, all of your child’s treatment programs focus on needs analysis, treatment goals, and the acquisition of skills that enable children and young adults to live more independent and fulfilling lives. The behaviors and skills that are taught include:
Language and communication
Social and play skills
Attention and focus on needs
Coping and tolerating skills
Self-care/Daily living skills
Self management skills
Our ABA Therapy Approach
Westside primarily serves autistic children and adolescents between the ages of 2-17 in its ABA therapy program. Before any behavior analysis or ABA therapy is conducted, a formal diagnosis of autism or related disorder is performed.
Research shows that Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) is one of the most effective strategies for improving the skills, language, social, and adaptive deficits and disorders associated with autistic children. Whenever possible, it is critical for children to begin autism services by ages 3 or 4. In addition, we can prevent challenging behavior from developing in the future by teaching skills early on through behavioral analysis.
While many children in our ABA therapy program have similar goals, each child has their own individualized program specific to their needs and receives a unique behavior analysis. The clinic’s BCBA will create the treatment program for your child from an evaluation that determines strengths and the areas of difficulty. This will also help you learn when to stop ABA therapy as it is not meant to be a lifelong commitment.
ABA therapy can have long hours each week, but the BCBA will determine the plan that is right for your autistic child. We never want to over serve or under serve the amount of hours a child actually needs. Because data is collected regularly, your child’s therapist will be able to adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
Enjoyable ABA clinic settings
At Westside, we have clinics that make ABA therapy fun and inviting. Sometimes a child may not even realize they are doing ABA. That is just one reason why we value the importance of in-clinic therapy. Conducting therapy in-home has its benefits such as: easy access, a familiar setting for the child, and at-home behavioral skills can be directly worked on. However, depending on treatment needs, conducting ABA therapy in a clinic with a therapist vs. at home can result in quicker and more long-lasting results. In a clinic, a child along with their BCBA, has access to more materials, therapists and socialization with other children.
Multidisciplinary Approach to ABA
Westside clinics also allow for children to receive multiple treatment therapies under the same roof depending on their needs. If an autistic child needs to combine occupational, physical, speech, feeding, or counseling to their treatment or program, that is possible. It also allows for collaboration among behavioral therapists and parents.
Focus on Skill Acquisition
At Westside, we focus on providing your child with skills to replace the challenging behaviors, rather than just trying to eliminate them. Without skill acquisition and support, a child may be more likely to return to the behaviors that impeded their development.
At Westside, you will never feel out of the loop of your child’s therapy sessions. With a parent portal that the BCBA will help set you up, you will be able to:
- View the data collected on your child’s learning goals
- Communicate with your therapists and leave comments that can be gone over at your next BCBA parent meeting.
- View scheduled appointments for the week
- See who your therapists are
What to Expect from ABA Therapy
Research shows autistic children achieved 200% more learning per hour during clinic-based services relative to home-based ABA therapy services. There are many reasons for accelerated progress in clinic settings:
During ABA therapy sessions, Registered Behavior Technicians, or RBTs, are responsible for implementing the ABA treatment plan and collecting data to track and support your child’s progress. BCBAs understand your child’s needs, analyze your child’s data, make treatment modifications to programs as necessary, and provide regular feedback and support to RBTs. BCBAs also provide support to caregivers through weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly collaboration meetings to make sure all ABA therapy sessions are well optimized and your child’s needs are met.
Clinic settings allow for higher quality of support and quantity of supervision by BCBAs. At Westside, there is always a BCBA on site to provide support to RBTs and children during all treatments.
ABA providers have greater access to treaatment resources and materials in a clinic setting.
There are greater opportunities for children to practice social skills and peer interactions.
Westside has a team of passionate, tenured behavioral therapists dedicated support parents and build long-lasting relationships with your child.
Clinic settings allow for greater collaboration and support across all members of an ABA treatment team.
Clinic-based programs prepare and support children who will soon be starting school.
Therapeutic ABA Programs
Westside also offers three therapeutic treatment programs to give children with autism an extra resource and support to reach their maximum potential. These programs are in addition to each learner’s regularly-scheduled ABA therapy.
IGNITE is a preschool-like ABA program for children with autism typically aged 2-6. It is a program to develop fundamental skills to be successful in a school environment.
RISE is a kindergarten-like ABA program for children with autism typically aged 5-8. It is used to prepare children for the skills required to be successful in emotional, social and educational situations.
FOCUS is for advanced children typically aged 9+ that attend school during the day but need a little extra support. This program is for learners with autism that are looking to strengthen age-appropriate needs and social skills in order to develop better community awareness.
Everything you need to know about ABA Therapy
Why is Westside best for ABA therapy?
There are many reasons parents throughout the Chicago suburbs trust and recommend Westside for ABA therapy. From low staff turnover to having over 800+ pediatricians referring to us for services, Westside Children’s Therapy is the best choice for autistic children. Above all is our parents’ feedback.
Every parent is sent a survey at the beginning, middle, and end of their therapy services. It asks: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer Westside to your friends and family.” Here is what parents say:
- Average Beginning Score: 9.71/10
- Average Middle Score: 9.83/10
- Average End Score: 9.89/10
This is exactly why Westside is deemed the best.
Do you have a waitlist?
Westside uses proprietary software to measure demand and seasonality to predict hiring needs.
Accordingly, we try to hire before waitlists develop. This reduces how long it takes for new families to start.
That said, it is common that we have to request authorization from your insurance company. That part of the process is out of our control and can add at least several weeks of wait time.
What does ABA Therapy cost?
While cost varies by insurance plan, number of therapy hours, and other factors, the average cost in Illinois if you are using insurance is $1500 to $3000 per year. Read our ABA Therapy Costs page to get a full breakdown.
Do you do anything to help families with costs?
Yes! This is where Westside is different. We don’t exist to maximize profit like many of the private-equity backed ABA companies (this is a trend in ABA right now). Such investors require a financial return paid for by you. Westside does not play that game.
Instead, we dedicate resources to making care more affordable. For example, every year the Westside Foundation gives away $50,000 in support to families with children with special needs that are struggling economically. You can apply quarterly.
Which insurances do you accept or covers ABA?
We work with a wide variety of insurance companies and HMO networks. We are always expanding our insurance network – click here to view the list of our currently accepted insurance companies.
How often will my child need ABA Therapy?
The frequency of behavioral therapy depends on: (1) Your availability and preferences, (2) Our clinical analysis and recommendation, and (3) Approval from your insurance.
Our rule of thumb is that we need to have enough therapy to make meaningful outcomes AND remember that these kids are kids. We have to balance clinical treatment recommendations with what works for the parent, family and the child. We are not hard-liners about this, and instead, take a more balanced needs approach that is accommodating of each family’s unique needs.
We also teach parents to carry over the treatment plans at home. Then, when a child graduates, families can continue providing the support.
ABA Therapy Clinics
We locate our ABA centers near you! We have 27 locations across the Chicagoland area, including clinics in Rockford and DeKalb.
If you take a look at our ABA Centers, you will see why kids excitedly run through our doors when they arrive for therapy.