Home Based or Center Based Services – Which is right for my child?

Home Based or Center Based Services – Which is right for my child?

Parents of children with autism often face the decision of whether to seek home- or center- based treatment.  At Reaching Milestones with Behavioral Consultation Services, one of our most important principles is that our clients are able to make educated and informed decisions.  With that in mind, we would like to share what recent, scientific research has to say about home- and center-based treatment, as well as our experiences in the matter when treating children with our Autism program.

A well-controlled study conducted by behavioral researchers (Roberts et al., 2011), examined the treatment outcomes for children diagnosed with autism who participated in Center-Based programs or Home-Based programs.  Treatment outcome measures included: social and communication skill development in the children, quality of life and stress for parents.  Results from the study showed that children in the Center-Based program improved the most in social & communication skill development.  Furthermore, parents of the children in the Center-Based program reported the most gains in “perception of competence & quality of life.”  Researchers concluded that, if possible, Center-Based treatment was the preferred option for children with autism (Roberts et al., 2011).

While there may be multiple factors affecting the results in the aforementioned study, our experiences at Reaching Milestones with BCS have led us to draw a few conclusions:

Center-based treatment (also known as clinic-based treatment) allows the behavior analyst to minimize or alleviate many variables that may prove very difficult to control in a home environment.  Such things as toys, entertainment devices, pets, and even siblings can cause unnecessary distractions that hamper a child’s development.  In a center, a behavior analyst is able to control events that would otherwise be distracting in a home setting, and in some cases use those events to bring about effective changes in your child’s behavior.

Center-based treatments generally allow the analyst to spend more time working with your child.  Let’s face it: Life happens.  Aside from working or meeting family obligations, sometimes we are caught off-guard by emergencies and other events.  You may have aging parents to care for or other, typically functioning children whose demands need to be met.  Now, imagine having to work around these events and maintain your child’s home-based treatment schedule.  Our experience as behavior analysts tells us that center-based treatment allows for your child to get more of the attention that will lead to positive, beneficial changes and allow you to focus on the other aspects of your life while still benefitting your child.

Center-based treatment, while giving analysts more time with your child, also gives them the ability to gather more information about your child’s development.  This information is used to better formulate your child’s program of instruction and allows you to better communicate with the analyst about progress and concerns.  At Reaching Milestones with BCS, we believe that keeping you informed and up-to-date on your child’s progress will also give you the confidence to handle the day-to-day challenges that you may face in meeting your child’s needs inside the home.

You don’t have to take our word for it, however. In the study previously mentioned (Roberts et al., 2011), researchers also found that parents involved in center-based treatment scored significantly higher in the following areas, overall:

Family interaction

Parenting skills

Emotional wellbeing

Physical wellbeing


Coping skills




Knowing your options is a vital aspect of selecting treatment for your child.  At Reaching Milestones with BCS, your child’s progress comes first.  We want to make sure that you have all the information you need in order to make an informed decision regarding your child’s care.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the nearest Reaching Milestones location.

Roberts, J., Williams, K., Carter, M., Evans, D., Parmenter, T., Silove, N., Clark, T., Warren, A.

(2011). A randomised controlled trial of two early intervention programs for young children

with autism: Centre-based with parent program and home-based. Research in Autism

Spectrum Disorders, 5,