Home-Based vs. Center-Based Pros and Cons

Discover the pros and cons of home-based vs. center-based ABA therapy. Make an informed choice for effective treatment!

By Brighter Strides ABA

June 21, 2024

ABA Therapy Settings

When considering ABA therapy for children with autism, there are two primary settings to choose from: home-based therapy and center-based therapy. Each setting has its own advantages and considerations, which should be carefully evaluated to determine the most suitable option for the child's needs.

Home-Based Therapy

Home-based therapy refers to ABA therapy sessions conducted within the child's home environment. This setting offers several benefits, including:

  • Environment: Home-based therapy allows the child to receive treatment in a familiar and comfortable setting. This can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of security, facilitating the learning process.
  • Parental Involvement: Home-based therapy often involves active participation from parents or caregivers. This allows for more frequent and consistent practice of learned skills, as parents can reinforce therapy techniques throughout the child's daily routines. Parental involvement has been shown to have positive effects on the progress of children in ABA therapy [1].

Center-Based Therapy

Center-based therapy takes place in a specialized facility or clinic designed specifically for ABA therapy sessions. This setting offers unique advantages, such as:

  • Professional Support: Center-based therapy provides access to a team of trained professionals, including behavior analysts and therapists. These professionals have expertise in implementing ABA techniques and can provide consistent guidance and support throughout the therapy process [2].
  • Social Interaction: Center-based therapy offers opportunities for social interaction with peers who are also undergoing ABA therapy. This can help children develop social skills, such as turn-taking, sharing, and cooperative play. Improved social interaction has been reported as a benefit of center-based ABA therapy [3].

When deciding between home-based and center-based ABA therapy, it's important to consider factors such as the child's individual needs, their response to different environments, and the availability of resources and support. It may be beneficial to consult with professionals and discuss the specific needs of the child to determine the most appropriate therapy setting.

In the following sections, we will explore other considerations, benefits, and comparisons of home-based and center-based ABA therapy, including progress monitoring, skill generalization, and cost analysis.

Considerations for Home-Based ABA

When considering home-based ABA therapy, there are several important factors to take into account. Two key considerations are the environment in which the therapy takes place and the level of parental involvement.


One of the advantages of home-based ABA therapy is that it occurs in the familiar environment of the child's home. This can provide a sense of comfort and security, which may facilitate the learning process. Additionally, being in a familiar environment allows for easier generalization of skills, as the child can practice and apply what they have learned in their everyday surroundings.

Furthermore, home-based therapy offers the opportunity for the therapist to directly observe and address any specific challenges or issues that may arise within the child's home environment. This allows for a more tailored approach to therapy, as the therapist can work closely with the child and their family to develop strategies that are relevant and effective in their specific home setting.

Parental Involvement

Parental involvement is a crucial component of any ABA therapy program, and it is particularly emphasized in home-based ABA therapy. Parents play an active role in supporting their child's progress and are often involved in therapy sessions alongside the therapist. This involvement allows parents to learn and implement the therapy techniques themselves, which can lead to greater consistency and generalization of skills outside of therapy sessions.

By actively participating in their child's therapy, parents gain a deeper understanding of the principles and strategies of ABA. This knowledge enables them to reinforce and support their child's progress throughout their daily routines and activities. Parental involvement also fosters a stronger bond between the child and their parents, as they work together towards shared goals.

It is important to note that while home-based ABA therapy offers these benefits, it may not be suitable for every family or every child. Factors such as the availability of qualified therapists, the child's specific needs, and the family's daily schedule should be considered when deciding on the most appropriate setting for ABA therapy.

In the next section, we will explore the benefits of center-based ABA therapy and provide a comparison of the effectiveness between the two settings.

Benefits of Center-Based ABA

Center-based ABA therapy offers several benefits that can positively impact the progress and development of individuals. Let's explore two key advantages: professional support and social interaction.

Professional Support

One of the significant advantages of center-based ABA therapy is the presence of trained professionals who provide essential support throughout the therapy process. These professionals have expertise in implementing ABA techniques and strategies that are tailored to the individual's needs. Their knowledge and experience contribute to the effectiveness of the intervention.

The involvement of professionals in center-based ABA programs ensures that individuals receive high-quality and evidence-based interventions. These professionals are equipped with the necessary skills to assess, plan, and implement behavior interventions effectively. Their expertise enables them to address individual challenges and modify strategies as needed, maximizing the potential for positive outcomes.

Social Interaction

Center-based ABA therapy provides ample opportunities for social interaction among peers, which is a vital aspect of social skills development. Engaging in therapy sessions with other individuals undergoing ABA therapy creates a social environment that fosters interaction, communication, and the development of important social skills.

Social interaction in a center-based setting allows individuals to practice and generalize social skills in a controlled and supportive environment. By engaging with peers, individuals have the opportunity to learn and practice skills such as turn-taking, sharing, cooperation, and communication. These interactions can lead to improved socialization outcomes and enhance the individual's ability to navigate social situations outside of therapy sessions.

By experiencing social interactions within a structured setting, individuals can develop important social skills that can positively impact their daily lives and relationships.

Center-based ABA therapy, with its emphasis on professional support and social interaction, offers individuals a comprehensive and supportive environment for their therapeutic journey. It is important to consider these benefits when deciding on the most suitable ABA therapy setting for an individual's unique needs and goals.

Comparison of Effectiveness

When considering the effectiveness of ABA therapy, it's important to examine how progress is monitored and how skills are generalized in both home-based and center-based settings.

Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring is a critical aspect of ABA therapy, as it allows therapists, parents, and caregivers to track the individual's progress towards their goals. In both home-based and center-based ABA therapy, progress monitoring is typically conducted through regular assessments and data collection.

In home-based ABA therapy, progress monitoring often involves frequent communication between the therapist and the parents. The therapist provides training and guidance to parents on how to collect data and record observations of the targeted behaviors or skills. This collaborative approach ensures that the therapy goals are consistently addressed in the home environment.

On the other hand, center-based ABA therapy provides a structured setting where therapists have direct access to the individual throughout the session. They can closely observe and document the progress made during each therapy session. This immediate feedback allows therapists to make real-time adjustments to the treatment plan, if necessary.

Skill Generalization

Skill generalization refers to the ability to apply learned skills in various settings and situations. It is an essential component of ABA therapy to ensure that the skills acquired during therapy sessions are transferred to everyday life.

In home-based ABA therapy, skill generalization occurs within the familiar environment of the individual's home. The therapist focuses on teaching skills that are directly relevant to the individual's daily routines and activities. This approach facilitates the application of learned skills in practical and functional ways.

Center-based ABA therapy offers opportunities for skill generalization through social interaction with peers and therapists in a structured setting. The presence of other children provides opportunities for practicing social skills, turn-taking, and cooperative play. This social environment helps individuals generalize their skills across different people and settings.

It's important to note that the effectiveness of progress monitoring and skill generalization may vary depending on the individual's specific needs and preferences. Some individuals may thrive in a home-based setting, while others may benefit more from the structure and social opportunities provided by center-based ABA therapy.

By considering the individual's unique characteristics and goals, parents and caregivers can make an informed decision about the most suitable ABA therapy setting for their loved one. For more information on ABA therapy and related topics, feel free to explore our articles on four functions of behavior in ABA therapy, can ABA therapy help with anxiety?, is ABA therapy covered by insurance in Arizona?, and is ABA therapy covered by insurance in New Mexico?.

Cost Analysis

When considering home-based versus center-based ABA therapy, cost is an important factor to consider. The cost of ABA therapy can vary depending on several factors, including location, duration of therapy sessions, and the specific needs of the individual receiving therapy. In this section, we will explore the costs associated with both home-based and center-based ABA therapy.

Home-Based Costs

Home-based ABA therapy typically involves a therapist coming to the individual's home to provide therapy sessions. This setting offers the advantage of convenience and familiarity for the child and family. The cost of home-based ABA therapy can vary depending on the qualifications and experience of the therapist, as well as the number of hours of therapy required.

According to [Citation 1], the average cost of home-based ABA therapy ranges from $40 to $60 per hour. It's important to note that this is an approximate range, and costs can vary based on factors such as location and the specific services provided. Additionally, some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost of home-based ABA therapy, so it's advisable to check with your insurance provider to determine the coverage available.

Center-Based Costs

Center-based ABA therapy takes place in a specialized facility or clinic that is equipped to provide comprehensive therapy services. This setting offers access to a wide range of resources and a structured environment that promotes learning and social interaction.

The cost of center-based ABA therapy can vary depending on factors such as the location, duration of sessions, and the level of supervision required. According to [Citation 2], the average cost of center-based ABA therapy ranges from $50 to $75 per hour. Again, it's important to keep in mind that these figures are approximate and can vary based on individual circumstances and geographic location.

One potential advantage of center-based therapy is that it may be more likely to be covered by insurance. Many insurance plans provide coverage for center-based ABA therapy, although coverage limitations and requirements can vary. It's advisable to check with your insurance provider to determine the extent of coverage available in your specific situation.

When choosing between home-based and center-based ABA therapy, it's important to consider the financial implications. While home-based therapy may offer convenience, center-based therapy may provide additional benefits such as professional support and social interaction. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on the individual needs of the child and the resources available.

In conclusion, both home-based and center-based ABA therapy come with associated costs. The specific cost will depend on various factors, including location, duration of therapy sessions, and insurance coverage. It's crucial to carefully consider the financial aspects while also considering the potential benefits and resources available in each setting.


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