Choosing the right intervention for Autism

By Step by Step Consulting

There’s so many cures for autism online, it’s a wonder anyone still has it

Presently, there are over 400 advertised Autism interventions. The majority of these lack scientific evidence and support. The huge amount and variety of interventions available make it extremely difficult for parents to make an informed decision about which intervention to choose for their child.

When choosing Autism interventions, parents should be very wary and skeptical of companies that make unsubstantiated claims of recovery as these statements are used to evoke the emotions of vulnerable family members. Such companies rely on testimonials and anecdotal stories only to support their claims. These “treatments” often cost a lot of money with no scientific research supporting them. Currently, there is no cure for autism.

When choosing an intervention, question everything! It can be extremely tricky to choose an intervention because the claims being made are unclear. For example, the claim might be ‘behave better’- what does this mean?

Here are some questions that you could ask:

  • How will I know if this is working?
  • What does “better” mean?
  • What difference should I see?
  • How will these changes be measured

The internet is flooded with different interventions, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the information. You may also read or get conflicting advice from professionals. When this happens, turn to the evidence and how much evidence there is.

Here are more questions that you could ask:

  • Has the intervention been tested?
  • How much evidence is there?
  • Have the claims for the success of the treatment been peer-reviewed, published in a reputable journal?
  • Have they been independently replicated?

So what should I look for when selecting an intervention? Practically all Autism interventions that have been classified as effective are based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis. Evidence suggests that early intervention with a behavioural or educational focus have the best outcomes for most children with ASD.

An ABA programme has four key components.

  • An objective assessment of the child’s strengths and skill deficits.
  • Understanding the current and future value of the skill for the child and their family.
  • Teaching small component behaviours that work towards a larger functional life skill.
  • Ongoing data collection and analysis to inform decision-making.

For information on evidence based treatments and treatments that have no research supporting them or are untested, click here.