When Should My Child Stop ABA Therapy?

Updated: Dec 29, 2020


ABA Therapy Experts in Missouri Discuss the Key Aspects to Consider

As a highly customizable therapeutic strategy for treating children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy presents many benefits . Studies indicate that with an early, intensive, and long-term approach, ABA therapy has the potential to help some children completely eliminate their Autism symptoms. While evidence-based ABA therapy is effective in children, as well as adults, it does not always need to be a lifelong approach. There may come a time, when one or more of these things happen:

  • You feel confident about your child’s stage of functioning and ability to be independent.

  • You are sure of your own abilities to continue therapy at home,without an expert practitioner.

  • You are facing financial difficulties that make funding your child’s ABA therapy difficult.

  • You want to prioritize your child’s time in favor of sports, camps, or some other activities instead of formal ABA therapy.

Many parents have questions about the overall duration of treatment required for their child. Some others may be at the point where they are contemplating whether to stop or continue ABA therapy.The experts at AB Spectrum offer some insights into when and how to stop formalASD therapy for children with Autism.

The ultimate goal of ABA therapy is to bring about sustainable and positive changes in the lives of families dealing with ASD. Tailor-made specifically to your child’s needs and developmental goals, ABA therapy focuses on:

  • Developing Critical Skills: Including motor, verbal, social, reasoning, and cognitive skills

  • Promoting Independence: For essential life skills, such as self-care and self-grooming, as well as for accomplishing specific tasks, such as academic or job-related

  • Improving Quality of Life: Through active involvement in your child’s therapy, you can introduce ABA-based techniques in real-life situations. Through the continuation of ABA therapy beyond the formal sessions, you can:

  • Create opportunities for your child to generalize the learnings from active therapy to people or contexts in everyday life

  • Utilize innovative parenting solutions that improve the overall quality of life for your entire family.

With intense ABA therapy sessions, 30 to 40 hours a week, you may likely see several visible improvements in your child’s functioning and behaviors. However, besides what you observe, it is important to consider certain other factors before you decide to reduce the hours or discontinue your child’s ABA therapy.


  1. Assessments and Progress on Treatment Goals: No matter how long it has been since your child enrolled in ABA therapy, it is important to monitor progress frequently. Your child’s Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) usually provide detailed reports twice a year for: Progress on Treatment Goals:This includes the baseline information (pre-therapy) and current level of your child’s performance on every developmental goal. Progress on Assessment Tools: All ABA therapists monitor your child’s performance through formal assessment tools at regular intervals. Besides your child’s baseline scores and current performance levels, these tools provide scores of other children in that age group for a relative comparison. Before making your decision to stop therapy, consult with your child’s team of ABA specialists and discuss both the reports to ensure that there is consistent progress on the treatment goals.

  2. Social Significance: A term used by ABA practitioners, ‘social significance’ refers to the progress measured by the family of the child with ASD. It is about reviewing whether life has improved significantly due to the progress your child has made in therapy. Has ABA therapy been effective in meeting some of the goals that were important to your family? For example, if your child was struggling with sleeping through the night, following a morning routine, making eye contact, or communicating, have those behaviors or abilities changed due to therapy, and are they sustainable without the therapy? If the answers to these questions are a confident “yes”, then it may be a natural time to decrease the number of hours or discontinue formal therapy.

  3. Availability of Time:While ABA therapy is effective, it also requires a great deal of parental support, attention, and involvement, which may sometimes not be possible. This may be due to some personal or professional difficulties, or your preference to invest your resources in other critical extra-curricular activities, instead of formal therapy. If you are discontinuing therapy because of these reasons, it is important to ensure that your child’s new schedule is just as engaging and supportive as the therapy sessions.Wherever possible, it may be good to involve your child in these decisions. Talking to them about their goals and priorities may give you deep insights into whether to continue or stop ABA therapy.

  4. Financial Constraints: Are financial difficulties making therapy unaffordable? While most U.S. states have coverage requirements for Autism treatments, it may not always be applicable to every individual. If you are considering stopping therapy due to financial issues, reach out to your ABA clinic to see if they can offer you some support.

Are you considering discontinuing ABA therapy because your child has mastered the set goals, or because of some other reasons? No matter when or why you decide to stop therapy, it is best to gradually decrease the hours and frequency of the sessions instead of coming to a sudden halt. Use this time to:

  • Put together an appropriate transition plan for structuring your child’s new daily schedule.

  • Ensure that your family members have adequate training to implement the techniques that helped your child meet their developmental goals so far.

Working together with your child’s ABA therapy specialists will ensure a seamless shift to a new routine and help your child continue on the path for success. However, should the need arise, be prepared to resume therapy,and contact your ABA clinic for any additional assistance through the transition.

At Autism and Behavior Spectrum (AB Spectrum), we are passionate about bringing about positive, long-lasting changes in the lives of children and families dealing with Autism. Our customized ASD therapies center on the Reggio Emilia ABA therapy approach. We offer Autism treatments through our ABA clinics at St. Charles and Chesterfield, Missouri, as well as at-home sessions throughout the St. Louis area of Missouri. Our team of qualified and experienced BCBAs and RBTs create flexible, high-impact ABA programs and interventions in order to develop desirable skills and reduce challenging behaviors in children with Autism. We also have a dedicated group of specialists who offer a host of insurance services, including care contracting, coding, authorizations, and billing issues. Our teams help you to maximize the potential benefits of your insurance coverage and ensure that your child receives the best care and ABA therapy for as long as is necessary.


Do you have more questions or concerns about when to start or stop ABA therapy for your child with Autism? Get in touch with the experts at AB Spectrum at 314.648.2687 or schedule a free initial consultation at one of our ABA clinics near you.

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AB Spectrum General Contact Information

Phone: (314) 339-7732

Email: info@abspectrum.org

Fax: (636) 244-4914

Chesterfield

Location: 14733 Clayton Rd. 

Ballwin, Missouri​ 63011

Direct Line: 636-248-1395

Email: chesterfield@abspectrum.org

Weldon Spring in St. Charles

Location: 1030 Wolfrum Rd, Weldon Spring, MO 63304

Direct Line: (636) 445-4659

Email: stcharles@abspectrum.org

 

Clinic Hours: 

Monday-Friday 7:00am-5:30pm

Insurance Department Hours: 

Monday-Friday 8:00am- 3:30pm

Administration Hours:

Monday-Friday 7:00am-4:00pm

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 ABS 2020