Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Rush provides applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy that is tailored and unique. We work with families to create goals that will have the most impact on daily life.

Rush provides applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy that is tailored and unique. We work with families to create goals that will have the most impact on daily life.

During applied behavior analysis therapy, or ABA therapy, a child learns and develops skills to be successful in their daily lives. Therapists at Rush work with families to create family-specific goals.

Who‘s a Good Candidate for ABA Therapy?

Children with autism who have behavioral, social or emotional concerns can benefit from ABA therapy. ABA therapy can help with the following:

  • Communication
  • Expressing needs and emotions
  • Learning new skills
  • Play and social skills
  • Self-care (showering and hygiene)
  • Self-feeding (mealtime) problems
  • Tantrums
  • Toileting (bathroom) problems

If you have concerns about your child, call us at (833) 713-1872 to schedule an evaluation. Our team can determine whether and how ABA therapy could help your child.

What Is the Process for Starting ABA Therapy at Rush?

Here’s what you can expect after you call for an initial evaluation:

  • Introductory interview: During your interview, we’ll ask you about your child, talk about your family’s needs and make sure all your child’s paperwork is in order. We can usually schedule introductory interviews within two weeks of your call. An introductory visit or tour can be set up upon your request.
  • Initial insurance authorization: After your interview, we’ll submit paperwork for insurance authorization of the initial evaluation. Most insurers in Illinois cover ABA therapy for eligible children, at least in part. The authorization process usually takes about four weeks. We can also help connect you with supplemental insurance providers if additional coverage for ABA therapy is needed.
  • Complete evaluation: Once we have insurance authorization, we’ll schedule an evaluation to see what your child’s needs are. This usually includes a parent or guardian interview and several tests and assessments over two or three days.
  • Recommended ABA therapy program: Within a week or so of the complete evaluation, we’ll develop a program tailored to your child’s needs. It will include recommendations for how many sessions your child should have each week. We’ll help you get insurance authorization for the program as well. 
  • First session: We can typically schedule your child’s first session within a few weeks of developing their ABA therapy plan. 

What Does ABA Therapy Look Like?

ABA therapy can vary widely depending on your family’s needs. Our team will work with you to create a program that improves daily life and delivers the best results. And our board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA) constantly monitor programs to make sure your child makes the most progress during our care.

Programs Tailored to Your Child

You may see a therapist a few times a week or even daily, depending on the need of your child. Techniques are tailored around helping a child meet a very specific positive behavior, like using the bathroom or playing with other children. Therapists will work with your child one-on-one and recreate the environment so they can work on a behavior or skill. 

Flexibility for the Best Results

Most therapies are held at our Rush Kids Pediatric Therapy centers, but some children benefit from in-home services. Depending on the skill and the best environment to support growth in that skill, our therapists may consider holding therapy in a family’s home.

Positive Reinforcement to Create Change

During sessions, therapists focus on positive reinforcement to encourage a child’s participation or engagement in activities. Positive reinforcement can be praise or time with a preferred toy, activity or book.  

Achievable Goals

If the goal is too big, therapists will usually break it up into several mini goals that are easier to meet. Once a child meets a small goal, they move on to the next one until the larger goal is met. For example, a child that is having toileting issues will work on improving their ability to know when it’s time to go. Then we may move on to properly using the toilet, and then focus on cleaning and washing as a final step. 

Family Participation

Parents can expect to be involved in the process. We set time aside with families to go over the evaluation, introduce the treatment program and answer questions. Therapists keep families updated with regularly progress reports and provide tips to help encourage positive behaviors at home.  


You can expect to see results from ABA therapy after a few weeks or months. Improvements are usually seen after several sessions. Younger children are often in ABA therapy for years. Older children (upper elementary and middle school) may only need a few months of therapy. 

Rush Excellence in ABA Therapy

  • ABA therapy at home or at Rush: We can work with your child in the environment most likely to produce the best results. That means that certain sessions can take place in the home. For example, sleep issues may be treated in the home so that therapists can identify real issues in their natural setting. Most other therapies, like toileting and building social skills, happen in our centers. Our centers are designed to be fun and comfortable.
  • Many autism services in the same space: Many children who come to our centers also need additional services for speech, occupational or physical therapy. Depending on your child’s needs, it’s possible to group several services in a single day. This allows our therapists to talk to each other between sessions and build upon skills and struggles from an earlier session. Other therapists can also help intervene during a session, if needed. For example, if a child is having difficulty communicating during ABA sessions, a speech therapist may join the session to help. 
  • Play-based therapy: We recognize that children learn best through play. Our locations are set up to be fun and attractive to children of all ages. Rather than ask a child to imagine a situation, we recreate them through play. This makes the experience more fun and helps children learn positive behaviors in real-life scenarios. 
  • High-quality care that leads to progress: Our board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA) work with families and therapists to make sure goals are a good fit. They also monitor sessions to see if your child is making progress as planned. If not, BCBAs will revise their program. 
  • Tailored programs that address specific needs: Our therapists work with families to create a program that works for them. Our tailored programs focus on addressing the individual needs of the child. We also review progress regularly and make changes to programs to encourage new skills.