top of page
  • Writer's pictureLaKeshia Y. Wells, M.Psych, BCBA, LBA

Exploring the Benefits of ABA vs. Daycare for ASD

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

When it comes to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the treatment of associated behaviors, there is a growing interest in both Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and daycare as options. ABA is an evidence-based intervention that uses positive reinforcement and behavior modification techniques to teach new skills, reduce problem behaviors, and improve overall functioning. Daycare, on the other hand, is a more traditional approach that focuses on providing a safe and stimulating environment for children to learn and grow. Both approaches offer a range of benefits for individuals with ASD, but it can be difficult to determine which is the best option. Let's delve into the details of ABA and Daycare and get to the bottom of the facts.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientifically-based method of therapy that is primarily used to treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability, and other developmental disabilities. It is one of the most widely used interventions for individuals with autism, and is considered to be the gold standard for treatment for the disorder. The primary goal of ABA therapy is to increase an individual’s quality of life by helping them to learn new skills and enhance existing ones. ABA therapy is based on the principle that all human beings, including those with developmental disabilities, are capable of acquiring new skills and improving their ability to function independently. The therapy teaches skills such as communication, socialization, self-care, and academics through a structured learning process that involves the use of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is an approach that rewards desired behaviors in order to encourage their future occurrence. For example, pairing a desired behavior, such as saying “please” when making a request, with a small reward, such as a treat, can help to encourage the behavior to be repeated.

What is Daycare?

Daycare, also referred to as child care, is a service that provides supervision and care for children while their parents are at work. Today, the term “daycare” is used to refer to all forms of child care, whether it be a high-quality group setting, a family setting, or a professional setting, including Early Childhood Education (ECE). Moreover, the term “daycare” is often used interchangeably with the term “childcare”, which is the broader term that encompasses any form of care for children outside of the home.

Benefits of ABA Therapy

ABA treatment can be individualized to meet each child’s unique needs and interests. This personalized approach allows the child to be actively involved in choosing specific skills to work on, while also being able to choose how, where, and with whom they want to spend their time. A focus on positive reinforcement encourages children to engage with their environment. As children learn positive behaviors, they are also rewarded with positive attention, which can help to reduce problem behaviors and increase feelings of self-worth. A therapeutic relationship is also formed between the child and therapist, which can help to build trust, motivate the child to engage in the process, and increase feelings of safety and comfort.

Benefits of Daycare

Daycare can provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to learn, grow, and develop alongside other children their age. This social aspect can help to improve communication skills, social skills, and overall self-confidence as children are able to practice and expand their skills in a safe and supportive environment. A consistent and structured environment can help to reduce the likelihood of these behaviors occurring.

Drawbacks of ABA Therapy

Navigating the shift from home to ABA therapy can be a complicated journey for both the child and the parents. It can be difficult for the child to understand and accept the new environment, and they may feel overwhelmed with emotions like frustration, sadness, and confusion. Moreover, the parents may struggle to come to terms with the considerable cost and the extra time they need to dedicate to taking their child to therapy, as well as attending parent training sessions. With compassion and understanding, providers can strive to make this transition smoother.

Drawbacks of Daycare

Daycare centers can be a difficult environment to provide individualized therapies, such as speech and ABA, as it can be difficult to recreate this type of individualized care in a group setting. Furthermore, daycare does not function similarly to ABA Therapy, as the environment is not set up in a manner that follows the evidence-based procedures of ABA, and often personnel are not certified to carry out ABA treatment.

Best Practices for Choosing the Right Approach

When choosing between ABA therapy and daycare, it is important to first identify the specific needs of the child and family. Another consideration is the child’s developmental level, as well as the parent’s personal preference. ABA therapy and daycare offer a range of benefits. However, it is important to note that ABA therapy is not a “quick fix”, and the process can look different for each child.


Choosing the right approach for treating ASD can be a challenging task. Parents may find themselves struggling to determine which approach is best for their child and family, particularly if they are unfamiliar with both approaches. However, by understanding the benefits of each approach and evaluating the factors listed above, parents can make an informed decision about which therapy option is best for their child.

116 views0 comments


bottom of page