what is an appropriate amt of ABA hours? | Autism PDD


4 years ago the minimum was 25 hours..we did 30 and 2 hours of speech a week. I think it depends on what level your child is to begin with. If you have a child already talking and social..I dont feel you need this many..but if your child is not talking or eye contact..I feel it is best to get as many hours that you can and try to engage them when the therapists leave...I was told by our DAN doctor to engage her at all waking hours..impossible task but in my head all these years.. I do the best I can:)

 A good book to pick up and read is "Educating Children with Autism", by the National Research Council.  It's kind of the gold standard on what our kids need in terms of education/intervention at the various stages and can be used with the SD to support your arguements. 


By 'stages' - do you mean grades (preschool, kindergarten, elementery, etc.) or developmental levels? 

I would be very interested in reading *any* objective guidelines about what might be considered appropriate interventions for kids like mine.

the Mommy guilt I'm having is that I'm afraid to have DD doing too much. She did just turn 2 in March. She had 5 1/2 hours of therapy yesterday; combo of ABA, ot, pt and speech. She was SO exhausted last night. I feel like would should push for a few more ABA hours (her therapists agree she could use a few more) but tripling the amount she's at now plus her ot/sp/pt seems like SO much for such a little thing.

DD is very borderline too (according to her therapists), some days you would never guess she even has a diagnosis.

thanks for all the info!

I got a lot of grief from family when we did 30 hours a week with Sarah at 3 years old but in the end we did the right thing. She was very affected ..I am not sure she would of progressed as much with less.  We had to do it for 3 years..you doing this so early she may phase out of ABA very fast..I would keep at it..she & you will adjust:) Good luck:)


i have heard 20 hours on mild kids, 30 for severe. [QUOTE=fred]


By 'stages' - do you mean grades (preschool, kindergarten, elementery,
etc.) or developmental levels? 

I would be very interested in reading *any* objective guidelines
about what might be considered appropriate interventions for kids like


Fred, Here's what I typed up over a year ago that I provided the SD prior
to one of my son's IEP's. It comes straight out of the book:

Educating Children with Autism

National Research Council
National Academy of Science 2001

Goals for Educational Services
(Page 218)

1.     Appropriate educational objectives for children with autistic
spectrum disorders should be observable, measurable behaviors and
skills. These objectives should be able to be accomplished within 1 year
and expected to affect a child’s participation in education, the
community, and family life. They should include the development of:
a.      Social skills to enhance participation in family, school, and
community activities (e.g., imitation, social initiations and response to
adults and peers, parallel and interactive play with peers and siblings);
b.     Expressive verbal language, receptive language, and non-verbal
communication skills;
c.     A functional symbolic communication system;
d.     Increased engagement and flexibility in developmentally appropriate
tasks and play, including the ability to attend to the environment and
respond to an appropriate motivational system;
e.     Fine and gross motor skills used for age appropriate functional
activities, as needed;
f.     Cognitive skills, including symbolic play and basic concepts, as well
as academic skills;
g.     Replacement of problem behaviors with more conventional and
appropriate behaviors; and
h.     Independent organizational skills and other behaviors that underlie
success in regular education classrooms (e.g., completing a task
independently, following instructions in a group, asking for help).
2.     Ongoing measurement of educational objectives must be
documented in order to determine whether a child is benefiting from a
particular intervention. Every child’s response to the educational program
should be assessed after a short period of time. Progress should be
monitored frequently and objectives adjusted accordingly.

Characteristics of Effective Interventions
(Page 219)

•     Entry into intervention programs as soon as an autism spectrum
diagnosis is seriously considered;
•     Active engagement in intensive instructional programming for a
minimum of the equivalent of a full school day, 5 days (at least 25 hours)
a week, with full year programming varied according to the child’s
chronological age and developmental level;
•     Repeated, planned teaching opportunities generally organized
around relatively brief periods of time for the youngest child (e.g., 15-20
minute intervals), including sufficient amounts of adult attention in one-
to-one and very small group instruction to meet individualized goals;
•      Inclusion of a family component, including parent training;
•     Low student/teacher ratios (no more than two young children with
autistic spectrum disorders per adult in the classroom); and
•     Mechanisms for ongoing program evaluation and assessments of
individual children’s progress, with results translated into adjustment in

(Pages 220-221)

1.     Based on a set of individualized, specialized objectives and plans
that are systematically implemented, educational services should begin as
soon as a child is suspected of having an autistic spectrum disorder.
Taking into account the needs and strengths of an individual child and
family, the child’s schedule and educational environment, in and out of
the classroom, should be adapted as needed in order to implement the
IEP. Educational services should include a minimum of 25 hours a week,
12 months a year, mentally appropriate educational activity aimed toward
identified objectives. Where this activity takes place and the content of
the activity should be determined on an individual basis, depending on
characteristics of both the child and the family.
2.     A child must receive sufficient individualized attention on a daily
basis so that individual objectives can be effectively implemented;
individualized attention should include individual therapies,
developmentally appropriate small group instruction, and direct one-on-
one contact with teaching staff.
3.     Assessment of a child’s progress in meeting objectives should be
used on an ongoing basis to further refine the IEP. Lack of objectively
document able progress over a 3 month period should be taken to
indicate a need to increase intensity by lowering student/teacher ratios,
increasing programming time, reformulating curricula, or providing
additional training and consultation.
4.     To the extent that it leads to the specified educational goals (e.g.,
peer interaction skills, independent participation in regular education),
children should receive specialized instruction in setting in which ongoing
interactions occur with typically developing children.
5.     Six kinds of interventions should have priority:
a.     Functional, spontaneous communication should be the primary
focus of early education. For very young children, programming should
be based on the assumption that most children can learn to speak.
Effective teaching techniques for both verbal language and alternative
modes of functional communication drawn from the empirical and
theoretical literature should be vigorously applied across settings.
b.     Social instruction should be delivered throughout the day in various
settings, using specific activities and interventions planned to meet age-
appropriate, individualized social goals (e.g., with very young children,
response to maternal imitation; with preschool children, cooperative
activities with peers).
c.     The teaching of play skills should focus on play with peers, with
additional instruction in appropriate use of toys and other materials.
d.     Other instruction aimed at goals for cognitive development should
also be carried out in the context in which the skills are expected to be
used, with generalization and maintenance in natural contexts as
important as the acquisition of new skills. Because new skills have to be
learned before they can be generalized, the documentation of rates of
acquisition is an important first step. Methods of introduction of new
skills may differ from teaching strategies to support generalization and
e.     Intervention strategies that address problem behaviors should
incorporate information about the contexts in which the behaviors occur;
positive proactive approaches; and the range of techniques that have
empirical support (e.g., functional assessment, functional communication
training, reinforcement of alternative behaviors).
f.     Functional academic skills should be taught when appropriate to the
skills and needs of a child.   

    The focus of these recommendations appears to be on kids between 3-6,
    but I'd argue that all our kids should be receiving this type of intervention
    regardless of age. The stages I referenced refers to their ability to
    function in various settings (i.e. 1:1, to small group, etc). If anyone is
    looking to fight for more services, this book is the one I'd reference. It's
    based on many studies that were done on various types of programs, and
    has the necessary "teeth" in it to be used as valid data.    shenom39233.7208449074I think the magic no is 25 hours a week of ABA (I have heard it here many
    times that it is the gold standard) My son gets 35 hours ABA currently. 29
    fron School District and 6 from Regional Center. Recently we are fighting
    hard to get the hours we need. We live in Ca. The amount of services
    provided is different with each individual and with individual school districts
    as well. Our EI ( regional center) did prove 27 hours of ABA a week at 2 yrs
    6 months and it was a godsend at that time.Our dev. ped.  suggested 10 hours and I am fighting with EI to get that.  He is currently getting 5 and we are trying to carry it over into the everyday living in our home.  It is hard though. 

    I have read that anywhere between 25-40 are best.
    Good luck and take care

    We do not do ABA, but from my research, minimum 20 hours/week early on (through pre-K) up to 40/week.  However, each child is different and combinations of therapies including ABA may lessen the ABA hours in my opinion...

    5 hours of ABA
    2 hours of Speech
    1 hour of OT
    1 hour of Play Therapy
    Lots of Floortime/RDI stuff as a part of our lives
    I seriously wish we had more ABA - but its really hard - we may be going to the RDI conference in November so I will feel more confident of the structure we are orviding
    I have been trying to find desperately to find some therapists to work rivately but it has not worked out
    how do you know if you child is receiving enough? My DD is only getting 8 hours of ABA a week. 3 of those hours are in-home. She also has 5 hours of sp/ot/pt combo in a center. Her therapists recommended more aba hours as did her neuro but the hours were denied by EI. Suggestions?


    Mom to bg twins 27months, DD is HFA and DS is NT
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