How many hours of therapy a week do you have your Autistic Child in? — The Bump
Special Needs

How many hours of therapy a week do you have your Autistic Child in?

My Husband and I were advised to enroll our Son in 20-30 Hours a week of Speech, OT and ABA Therapy. Frankly, I don't see how we can make this happen. My Son is 2 1/2 and I have another 2 year old and a 10 month old, so time is definitely an issue. We are also in discussions with our Insurance Company regarding coverage, and applying for Medicaid since my Son was a Foster Child we adopted. We are financially stable with a nice home and nice cars, but the cost of everything is blowing our minds! How do people pay for such intensive therapy? I want my Son to do well in life, but sometimes I feel like the sacrifice will be the happiness and well being of everyone else in the Family if 100% of my focus is on his Autism...

Re: How many hours of therapy a week do you have your Autistic Child in?

  • I had these same exact thoughts. DH and I are not poor- but our insurance (which is considered great coverage around my parts) only covers 3 hours of therapy a week. Our dev. pedi wanted DS in at least 20 hours a week of formal therapy. We have a really great public school EI program that gave us 8 hours a week of therapy up to age 2.5. So I wondered, do people pay out of pocket for 10 hours a week of therapy? How would that even work, shuttling him around to appointments when I work full-time? I just couldn't wrap my brain around it- at all. And of course the internet blogs I find are often Moms who quit their jobs to help manage their SN child's therapies, which didn't help my anxiety over the matter.

    There was a happy ending for us though- I found a SN daycare/preschool that offers therapy (ST/OT/PT) at their location. And they have a unique way of setting up therapy. If your son is like mine, he needs help socially, in addition to ST and OT. So they have a special therapy class that meets about 10 hours a week. The cost is the same as daycare, plus they bill insurance for 1 hour ST and 1 hour OT. There are only 6 kids in the class, with a ST, an OT, and a preschool teacher. It's a win-win all around because we pay two copays for 10 hours of "therapy", even though it's in a group setting. It's perfect for DS. That, coupled with an increase in hours to about 13 hours a week of EI in a classroom setting, and we've actually met the dev. pedi's goal in obtaining therapy, which I would have thought was impossible back when DS was 2.

    I did look into Medicaid for my son as well (through a waiver program). If I had gotten Medicaid I could have sent DS to an even more intensive day treatment program that would have been a full 40 hours a week of therapy. I discussed this with our doctor who thought DS would be better served in an inclusive setting, with typical children, so that he's forced outside his comfort zone a bit. He will likely be in mainstream kindy next year, so it's important that he figures out this social bit.

    Good luck- just keep looking. I can't believe we figured out our scenario. And the weird thing is that this SN daycare is within walking distance of our house.. and I never really noticed it there! Ask your doctor for some practical advice.

  • PP had some great ideas. I would look for a school that provides to special needs. Try shop around through the school district or special needs daycare preschool.

    At the most during this past summer we spent 3 hours a week for DS: 1 hour for speech, 1 hour for OT and 1 hour for behavioral.

    Speech was cut to only summers because DS already receives speech at school. Behavioral is every other week. OT is every week.

    This is the scheduling for DS because I work full time and DH goes to school full time.


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  • We have a similar issue. Our insurance covers nothing -- no speech, no OT, no ABA, no treatment at all. 

    We are comfortable, but no matter how much we cut back, we couldn't even begin to pay thousands of dollars a week for ABA without facing financial ruin. We do not qualify for assistance except a small amount each year from our county DD board. The wait list for state assistance that DD1 does qualify for is seven years and only covers kids between ages 3-6 -- she will likely age off that list before receiving any help at all. It is an absolute travesty, IMO. 

    Luckily for us, DD1 functions very well and has few behaviors issues -- her deficits are mostly in communication and social interaction. 

    We started out with an RDI program, where we were going the bulk of work with DD1 at home. We've now switched that to concentrate more on Floortime/social skills. 

    She goes to preschool, where she receives services and social support, for 10 hours a week. Every other week we trade off between Floortime and a child psych for an additional hour. We're in the process of starting a structured weekly playdate or two that I will facilitate with help from our Floortime therapist, who is also an SLP. DH takes DD1 to the child psych (who also has Floortime certification) because she can meet on evenings/weekends and it keeps him actively involved. 

    We keep her involved with trying other activities as well -- she plays soccer weekly (DH coaches), and we've done swimming and music. We do lots of outings -- grocery store, swimming at the local rec center, parks, etc. -- and I do my best to integrate therapy moments there. Now that DD2 is older, the two of them play together and, with some help from us, that's a big help for DD1 and something she gets practice with every day. 

    We've also done group-based therapy (therapy play groups). They tend to cost less per hour and because DD1's biggest needs are social, have been a good fit.  

    I always, always wish we could do more. But sometimes it just isn't possible, and you work with the resources you have.  


    DD1, 1/5/2008 ~~~ DD2, 3/17/2010
  • DS1 gets about 31-34 hours a week of ABA therapy. That is the only therapy we have him in right now. We pulled him out of EI services of ST, OT, and developmental services back in February to focus on ABA. We are very lucky and grateful our insurance covers his ABA. We just have to pay a daily co-pay no matter how many hours he gets in a day.

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  • Before turning 3 and getting picked up by our school system, dd rec'd about 20-25 hours of therapy a week... Mostly ABA, along with speech and OT... Our doc had also recommended 30+ hours, but DD simply couldn't sustain that kind of schedule, so we settled on a lighter load, which still worked really well for her. Now she's in a full time integrated pre-k classroom and still receives speech and OT (both in school and privately), along with a weekly social skills group (and swimming and gymnastics.) Busy for a 5-year-old, but I think she's just grown used to the pace. And like Auntie said, this crazy schedule and workload  is unfortunately just the nature of raising an autistic kiddo... You may not be able to get the everything the docs and therapists say they need, but you just need to do the best you can.
    When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? ~Pam Brown
    Big Girl 2.7.06 ~ Baby Girl 9.2.07
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