For Parents

Accessing ABA Services at School

Accessing ABA Services at School

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy serves as a cornerstone treatment for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other behavior disorders. Recognized for its efficacy, ABA therapy is most impactful when tailored to meet a child’s needs across various settings, including the home, community, and school environments. Funding avenues for ABA services at school typically stem from either the school district or the family’s health insurance plan. If you believe your child requires additional support at school, it’s important to understand the options that may be available to you.

Option 1: District-funded ABA

When ABA services at school are funded by the school district, they primarily involve consultation from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), alongside potential support from an ABA-trained 1:1 paraprofessional. The paraprofessional plays a pivotal role in aiding students during academic tasks, and supports a child in acquiring the skills indicated in their individualized education plan (IEP). Whether it’s assisting a child in staying focused during math class or enabling them to engage with peers during recess, district-funded ABA aims to ensure that every child receives the necessary support to access their education.

Option 2: Insurance-funded ABA

Alternatively, ABA services at school may be covered by a family’s medical insurance. While these services do not substitute district-funded support, they serve as a complementary resource to existing services. Insurance-funded ABA at school targets non-educational goals such as socialization, communication, and behavioral self-regulation. The alignment between a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and the medically necessary goals outlined by an insurance-funded ABA program offers opportunities for collaboration between district and medical providers to coordinate services effectively.

Getting Started

Step 1: Discuss Your Concerns with School Staff

The initial step in accessing ABA services at school involves open dialogue with your child’s teacher and the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. Through discussions and assessments, the team can determine the necessity for ABA services and their compatibility with your child’s educational goals.
Step 2: Explore Funding School Based Services Through your Insurance Provider
While the school district may not deem ABA services essential for your child’s educational goals, they could be deemed medically necessary for behavior management and social development. Many families are unaware that insurance-funded ABA can extend to school settings. Legislation like the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) mandates insurance coverage for autism treatment, ensuring equitable access to services.

Step 3: Understand Your Insurance Coverage

Thoroughly review your insurance policy to understand the scope of ABA services covered, including associated costs such as copayments and deductibles. Given that insurance-funded services at school incur personal expenses, it’s crucial to comprehend the financial implications.
Step 4: Collaborate with Your ABA Provider
Engage with your child’s BCBA to assess the potential benefits of school-based services. By evaluating the impact of your child’s symptoms on their school experience, you can determine the appropriateness of implementing ABA programs at school. Requesting an observation of your child in the school setting allows the BCBA to assess the feasibility of implementing a medically necessary ABA program and identify relevant goals.

Step 5: Coordinate with Your School District

Initiate transparent communication with the school, including teachers, administrators, and special education coordinators. Sharing pertinent information about your child’s diagnosis and the necessity for ABA services fosters understanding and collaboration. You may choose to share your child’s ABA Treatment Plan or coordinate a meeting between your ABA provider and the district team to facilitate collaboration. Document your request for ABA services in your child’s IEP.


ABA therapy administered in school settings can enable children with ASD to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Understanding the avenues available to access ABA in school can help parents to ensure that their child receives the comprehensive support needed to realize their full potential.


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