Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Chicago
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Is it necessary for my child to have an autism diagnosis to access ABA services?

The diagnosis is usually an insurance requirement to qualify for ABA therapy coverage.

This typically includes having a licensed psychologist, pediatrician, neurologist, or other professional provide an official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or related diagnoses in which ABA is a recommended treatment.

Who can provide an Autism diagnosis in Illinois?

In Illinois, potential diagnosing services in the area include: Hopemark Health, Advocate Health, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

How effective is ABA therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy enhances the lives of individuals with autism by fostering behaviors like social interaction, communication, and adaptive learning skills.

Its effectiveness lies in individualized treatment plans, evidence-based methods, and continuous monitoring for real-time adjustments.

Numerous studies have demonstrated positive outcomes, including improved cognitive scores, school performance, and reduced reliance on special services, although results can vary based on individual and therapy-related factors.

Who comprises my child's therapy team?

A child’s therapy team is a group of professionals aimed at meeting the child’s specific therapeutic needs. Your team includes Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA), Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), and administrative staff.

Parents are an integral part of this team, with open communication maintained among team members to track the child’s progress.

What differentiates a behavior therapist from an ABA therapist?

While both roles work to improve behavior, an ABA therapist explicitly uses the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to encourage positive behaviors and reduce unwanted ones. Behavior therapists may use a variety of methods, not strictly ABA.

When should my child start ABA therapy?

Early intervention is generally recommended for the most effective outcomes. However, ABA therapy can be beneficial at any age and can be started whenever a need is identified.

How do I get started obtaining ABA therapy for my child?

Starting Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for your child begins with a session with a licensed psychologist, pediatrician, neurologist, or other professional who can provide an official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or related diagnoses in which ABA is a recommended treatment.

Next you will need to find a center that is in network with your insurance provider and schedule an initial appointment with them. The team at the center will guide you through the authorization and will develop a treatment plan to address your child’s current needs.

How many hours of ABA therapy will my child need each week?

The number of hours depends on the child’s unique needs. Generally, children receive between 10 to 40 hours of therapy per week.

This can change based on your child’s age, their specific challenges, and the goals they are working towards. Younger kids or those with more significant challenges might need more hours, while older kids or those with smaller challenges might need fewer.

What age range of children do you serve?

We offer therapy to children as early as 18-months-old to 21-years-old to help build core abilities in daily life, communication, and socialization.

My child requires in-clinic therapy but has school during the day. How can we manage?

We understand that balancing therapy with other responsibilities can be challenging. We offer flexible scheduling options, including after-school hours, to accommodate your child’s needs.

Will my child have a dedicated therapist?

Yes, your child will have a dedicated team of RBTs and a BCBA to ensure consistency and build a strong, trusting therapeutic relationship. 

How can ABA therapy benefit my child?

ABA therapy is based on the science of learning and behavior and is frequently used to support individuals with autism.

This approach uses the reinforcement of behavior to help children acquire or improve skills such as socialization, communication, and independence.

Research has shown that consistent clinic-based ABA therapy is helpful with setting learners up for success in school and community settings while also being translatable to the home environment.

Earlier intervention can help promote independence and reduce the potential need for further assistance in the future.

Can ABA therapy complement speech and/or occupational therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can complement and amplify the impact of speech and occupational therapy. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a treatment that targets specific behaviors, such as those involved in social interaction, communication, and academic performance.

It uses a system of rewards and consequences to encourage positive behavior changes. When combined with speech therapy, which directly targets a child’s ability to communicate, or occupational therapy, which works on fine motor skills and daily living activities, ABA therapy can reinforce the skills learned in these sessions.

Can ABA therapy help my child develop speech or predict if they might ever be able to talk?

ABA therapy can play a crucial role in helping your child develop speech and communication skills.

ABA therapy’s systematic and individualized approach can help children with autism and other developmental disorders learn to communicate through verbal speech, sign language, or a communication device.

Therapists can use various strategies, such as verbal prompts, modeling, and reinforcement, to teach and encourage communication skills. However, predicting whether your child will eventually be able to talk depends on many factors and needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

How can ABA services enhance my child's social interaction skills?

ABA services can improve your child’s social interaction skills by providing systematic and targeted interventions. It will start with interactions with RBTs and BCBAs in individual sessions and continue in small groups.

In small groups we focus on teaching activities useful in a variety of social situations, helping our clients prepare for school, play dates, and other events.

Will my insurance cover the cost of ABA therapy?

In Illinois, certain health insurers are required by law to provide coverage for diagnosing and treating autism spectrum disorders for individuals under 21 years of age, up to a maximum benefit of $36,000 per year, with no limit on service provider visits.

The coverage varies greatly, so we recommend contacting your insurance provider for specific information.

Are there additional costs involved with ABA therapy?

Most insurance plans have coinsurance or copayments before out of pocked maximum is reached. In addition, we might recommend specific materials or activities the child would benefit from outside of the sessions, but those are not mandatory.

What are the Illinois state laws for autism

The Illinois state laws related to autism encompass a few different areas:

Autism Insurance Reform: The Illinois autism insurance bill, Public Law 095-1005, became effective on December 12, 2008. The services covered by this law include diagnosis, psychiatric care, psychological care, habilitative or rehabilitative care (Applied Behavior Analysis), and therapeutic care (behavioral, speech, occupational, and physical therapy).

Caps or Restrictions on ABA Coverage: There are certain restrictions on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) coverage in Illinois. The law limits coverage to individuals with autism under the age of 21 years. Coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism is subject to a maximum annual benefit of approximately $50,000 for individual grandfathered plans.

Medicaid: Illinois’s Medicaid program, known as the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE), provides fee-for-service and is also administered by Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).

State Mental Health Parity: Illinois has a mental health parity law, found in the Illinois state statute 215 ILCS 5/370c.

General Standards of Care: The state has general standards of care for autism, included in HB2595, passed in August 2021.

Illinois Department of Insurance: The Illinois Department of Insurance has issued bulletins related to autism care, including Bulletin 2020-04, published on March 25, 2020, which allowed for services to be provided via telehealth during the COVID-19 emergency.

What is the Illinois autism mandate?

Illinois has a specific autism mandate, which requires particular insurers to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorder for individuals under 21.

This includes coverage for diagnosis, treatment (including ABA therapy), psychiatric care, psychological care, habilitative or rehabilitative care, and therapeutic care.

What are some autism support groups in Chicago?

Chicago Autism Network: This 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping locals find and afford effective autism therapy & supports.
Mailing Address: P.O. BOX 804914, Chicago, IL 60680

Chicagoland Autism Connection (CAC): CAC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to educate more people about autism and work to enhance the lives and families of those living with the disorder. They provide support to families from the point of diagnosis and offer a range of activities and resources to support families affected by autism. They also have two divisions – the Chicago Southside Autism Support Group (CSASG) and the “A” Team Social and Recreational Club.

Address: 9449 S. Kedzie Ave., #716, Evergreen Park, IL 60805
Phone number:773-329-0375

The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP): TAP is a collaboration of 5 universities and ten organizations that operate 20 centers across the state. They provide services to children, families, educators, childcare providers, and medical professionals, aiming to develop, utilize, and share best and promising practices.

Address: Hope Pavilion, 5220 S. 6th Street, Suite 2300B, Springfield, IL 62703
Phone number:217- 953-0894 x 30477

Little Friends Center for Autism: The center strives to provide a fulfilling life for those they serve through comprehensive therapy services and evidence-based treatment strategies while serving as a resource and helping hand for families.

Address: 27555 Diehl Road, Warrenville, IL 60555.
Phone number:630-305-4196

What is the Autism Society of Illinois?

The Autism Society of Illinois is a nonprofit that aims to improve the quality of life for those with autism and their families. It works towards this goal through local, state, and national advocacy, striving to shape policies that offer equal opportunities and fight discrimination.

The organization also focuses on education, providing resources to help individuals, professionals, and the public understand autism better. In addition, it offers information about diagnosis, treatment, and local services to families and professionals.

The Autism Society of Illinois provides support by connecting families with resources, offering emotional guidance, and organizing support groups.

Are there any schools in Illinois that specialize in autism?

Yes, several schools in Illinois specialize in educating students with autism or other developmental or learning disabilities. These schools offer specialized programs and supports to help students thrive academically and socially.

Soaring Eagle Academy: This schoolprovides a unique educational environment for students with disorders in relating and communication, serving students aged 5 to 14 with Autism and related disorders.

Address: 800 Parkview Blvd, Lombard, IL 60007.
Contact:630-323-2900 or630-323-2936

Krejci Academy: Krejci Academy offers educational programs for students aged 3 to 21 with autism or other emotional, behavioral, or developmental disabilities.

Address: 619 East Franklin Avenue, Naperville, Illinois, 60540

The Cove School: The Cove School serves children with complex learning disabilities from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Address: 350 Lee Road, Northbrook, IL 60062

Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School: This is a top-ranked special education private school in Illinois that provides services for students with various special needs, including autism.

Address: 6245 S. Ingleside Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637

Hyde Park Day School – Chicago Campus: This is another top-ranked special education private school in Illinois. Hyde Park Day School offers programs for students with learning disabilities, including autism.

Address: 6254 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL 60637