We endorse quality programs that use evidence-based practices for autism treatment. Early intervention has been shown to be most effective, but individuals with autism are lifelong learners and thus can benefit from treatment at any time.
What are “evidence-based practices”?
As most of us in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder know only too well, some practices are promoted as “wonder treatments” without solid evidence. As you consider strategies and treatment methods, it is important to know which approaches have been shown to be effective. “Evidence-based practices” are interventions that researchers have shown to be safe and effective through scientific research. Efficacy, according to the National Professional Development Center on ASD, must be established through peer-reviewed research in scientific journals using accepted high standard methodologies. Recent research by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute in conjunction with the National Professional Development Center on ASD identified 27 evidence-based practices. As other promising and emerging practices continue to be evaluated in empirical studies, there is no doubt that some will be identified as evidence-based.
Research has demonstrated that individuals with ASD benefit from early intervention and appropriate interventions throughout their lifespans. Learning does not stop at age five. Individuals with autism benefit from treatments that integrate evidence-based approaches, such as behavior analytic techniques and visual supports, to target the skills that are most relevant to that person’s life.
What is ABA?
A number of the 27 evidence-based practices draw directly from the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA, a robust empirical approach to the study of human behavior, has often been misinterpreted. In practice, ABA is used to promote the acquisition of socially appropriate behaviors and the reduction of interfering behaviors. Behavior analytic instruction involves focusing on clear, measurable skill areas, breaking skills down into teachable segments, carefully arranging multiple opportunities to target these skills, keeping the learner successful by using prompting and guidance that is systematically faded, and applying effective reinforcement and generalization strategies. Meaningful data is consistently collected to help drive decision-making. In any high quality program, the individual’s interests, goals, and strengths are always central, and there is an emphasis on addressing functional and meaningful skills that promote quality of life.