Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently ask me how they can provide the treatment their child needs to succeed and thrive while juggling careers, keeping family commitments to their other children, and enjoying some sort of life of their own so they don’t burn out from their caregiving responsibilities.
If this sounds like your own situation, you definitely are not alone. After all, for many parents, especially those who work, the challenges of parenting children with autism are compounded by so many other issues that these already stressed people are overwhelmed. As a result, many ultimately end up reducing the number of treatment hours for their child—an unfortunate choice because maintaining fidelity to their child’s treatment plan and staying with the prescribed therapy hours is what will keep the children progressing toward their goals. Until the recent past, there was no easy answer I could give these dedicated but overwhelmed parents.
Fortunately, that has all changed, thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). Now, as a working parent, you don’t have to decide if you can maintain your career and work commitment or if the best option is to stop working so you can provide the necessary care your child’s needs. MHPAEA says that children should be able to have access to treatment even if their parents aren’t available. As a result, center-based ABA therapy services have become a vital option for care.
This ‘wave of the future’ center-based environment helps you to maintain the consistency and access to care your child needs. What’s more, both school age and pre-school age children can take advantage of these centers.
Benefits of ABA Therapy Centers
Peace of mind
As a working parent, you no longer need to worry that your child might be short-changed on his or her treatment because you need to be at work. Centers have established and consistent schedules, which lets you drop off and pick up your child at the same time every day. There’s also no need to worry if your child’s therapist is unavailable. The center will take care of that and make sure that your child has a well-qualified substitute.
Work and home life balance
With center-based care you are not forced to choose between providing the necessary treatment for your child and maintaining a career. You can continue working secure in the knowledge that your child is getting their prescribed treatment and progressing toward their goals. Plus, center-based care can help your family maintain some normalcy in your lives.
Valuable, consistent treatment for your child
Because your child will have enhanced oversight and supervision by his or her therapy team and, because they are in the same space and working with the same behavior interventionists, there is additional consistency in their therapy. Your child will also keep the same team. Additionally, there’s no need to worry if your child’s behavior technician is unavailable. The center will make sure that your child has a well-qualified substitute.
The recommended intensity of prescribed care is maintained
The number one predictor of favorable outcomes is for your child to adhere to the prescribed intensity (or hours) of treatment. For example Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, the recognized “gold standard” for treating ASD, is an intense treatment with up to 40 hours per week prescribed. Receiving the number of ABA therapy hours your child is prescribed offers him or her a greater opportunity to progress.
A customized learning environment for children with ASD
The Center’s physical spaces are set up to provide your child with a learning experience that helps to make ABA therapy a fun learning experience. Some centers feature gated and secure outdoor playground areas with rubber flooring and play equipment; gross motor gyms that also feature swings and slides; as well as separate classrooms.
Increased access to materials that will enhance your child’s treatment
Having access to numerous materials and equipment at the center can help your child learn how to do things other children may already know how to do. This also has the benefit of taking the burden (and expense) of purchasing therapy equipment out of your hands.
Access to a social environment
Receiving center-based services provides your child with more opportunities for socialization and integration with other children, which will help enhance his or her social development. For example, they can engage in small and large group activities, cooperative play with their peers and learn how to follow group instructions.
Consistent operating hours
Center-based care also has the advantage of not being reliant on specific school schedules. The center’s hours are continuous and treatment is available year round. So, when school or daycare is closed—for example, during the holidays or summer/winter breaks—you can still take advantage of center-based ABA therapy for your child and keep consistency in their therapy.
Center-based ABA Therapy is an invaluable treatment option for families and children with autism spectrum disorder. The strain of caring for a child with autism can be an enormous challenge for you (whether you are a working or non-working parent) and your family. But with center-based care as a viable option, it can be less stressful. Talk with your behavior analyst if you have further questions about center-based care and how it can help you maintain the consistency and access to care your child needs in order to help him or her thrive.