There are 6.8 million children and adults with autism in America, and the Unites States is the largest market for autism treatment programs. This is truly a growth market/industry. The combination of demand outpacing the supply, more favorable insurance reimbursement, private equity investment, more widespread awareness of the condition and advocacy efforts by dozens of organizations, plus the rising incidence of autism among children, all points to sustained growth over the next five years.
ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) treatment programs are considered to be the most effective and widely used programs for autistic children, but many other types of programs exist, focused on: art, music and theatre therapy, recreational therapy, and the use of animals such as dogs and horses.
This is a fragmented industry that operates locally, a mixture of more than 1,600 for-profit and non-profit organizations nationwide.
The top five things to know about this sector:
- Market value & growth: The U.S. autism treatment market was estimated to be valued at $4.1 billion as of 2021, growing by 11%. This followed a slight contraction in the market in 2020, due to the pandemic and declining sales of medications used to treat autism. Marketdata forecasts higher revenue growth for the for-profit chains to 2025 — 7.0% annually. The non-profit schools and centers are slated to grow by 5.4% per year.
- Autism treatment center revenues: A groundbreaking new analysis by Marketdata, of non-profit programs, based on IRS 990 tax forms, finds that the non-profit group saw revenues rise by 6.8% in 2019 and grow another 1.3% in 2020. Revenues were an estimated $2.73 billion in 2021. Centers quickly shifted to more virtual visits and the impact on operations was moderate. The “average” treatment center or school had revenues estimated at $951,000 in 2021.
- Role of private equity: Private equity investors have been very active in this market, backing eight major for-profit chains. Changes to U.S. federal and state laws now compel insurance companies to reimburse autism treatments, making the field attractive to investors. A total of 60 private equity firms, including Blackstone and KKR, have invested billions into the ABA/autism treatment industry.
- Huge demand for ABA therapists: There are basically three types of ABA program providers: brick & mortar centers, community providers, and in-home therapists. There is a shortage of ABA therapists — only 30,000 are certified. The per capita supply of certified ABA facilities falls below the benchmark in 49 states — thus, lots of untapped demand.
- The top for-profit chains: Thirteen large multi-site ABA program providers operate an estimated 926 brick & mortar centers and are aggressively acquiring competing centers and building new ones. Together, they accounted for at least $946 million in revenues in 2021 — a 26% market share of all ABA programs. At least 1,656 non-profit and for-profit treatment centers and schools are operating in the U.S. today.
Learn More About the Autism Treatment Industry
For more in-depth information, see Marketdata's groundbreaking new report The U.S. Autism Treatment Centers Market, which includes data on the value and growth of the market, key metrics of treatment centers, insurance coverage, patient demographics, the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on operations, analysis of for-profit vs. non-profit treatment centers, and discussion of the role of private equity and recent deals, plus 14 competitor profiles of the largest players in the field.
About the Author: John LaRosa is the President of Marketdata LLC and is the author of 100+ industry and market studies. His research appears in top media outlets including ABC, CNN, Fox, Forbes, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and a variety of trade journals.