Evaluating Autism Interventions

Internet Resources

Consumers should make sure that Web sites used to obtain information about health and medicine are provided by a reliable and credible source, and use sources that are based on qualified authorities.
American Telemedicine Association
ASAT is committed to science as the most objective, time-tested and reliable approach to discerning between safe, effective autism treatments, and those that are harmful or ineffective.
Promotes ABA and denigrates auditory integration training and facilitated communication.
Gina Green
Are they aware that the "treatments" most recently prescribed by the National Institute of Health, for autism, are dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening? that behavior modification therapy causes a high rate of PTSD and mental dissociation?
Autism Awareness Action
The Autism Intervention Research Trust is to fund research into the effectiveness of interventions to find out which work, which do not and which are potentially hazardous.
Neville Dean, PA News, scotsman.com
Consumer ratings of various autism treatments and interventions, traditional and complementary.
Addressing issues of authority, complementarity, confidentiality, attribution, justifiability, transparency of authorship, transparency of sponsorship, honesty in advertising and editorial policy.
Health on the Web Foundation
The most important contemporary trend is the development of a culture where people are encouraged to see themselves as the victims of harmful external agents or culpable agencies.
Jennifer Cunningham
A few companies have begun offering genetic testing combined with guidance on diet, supplement strategies, lifestyle changes, and/or drug usage which they claim can improve health outcomes. This article explains why such testing should be avoided.
Stephen Barrett
Specific methods and materials abound for teaching both sign and spoken language to deaf people. Autism intervention, dominated as it is by psychology/psychiatry gurus rather than educators, offers only the vaguest and the most schematic of intervention strategies. While often passed off as comprehensive curricula, these strategies fall far short of the specificity, practicability, and effectiveness of intervention materials for deaf children. Ultimately, parents realize that it is up to them to devise specific lessons for their children, and that it is up to all of us who work with autistic children directly -- parents, teachers, and therapists -- to compile, collectively, the truly comprehensive autism curriculum that we all so desperately need.
Katharine Beals
Wherever they turn for information on intervention or education, parents of newly diagnosed young children with autism are faced with a bewildering variety of possible approaches to treatment or instruction for their child. Even seasoned parent advocates find themselves constantly encountering practitioners making claims for the effectiveness of novel techniques, medications, or approaches. Unfortunately, all too often, these claims are gross exaggerations or poorly founded.
Commentary on Jordan et al. June 1998 final report to the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) to review educational interventions for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Glen Sallows
It is more important than ever that parents educate themselves about what these treatments are all about in order to make educated decisions before deciding to spend whatever money and time is involved.
Intervention research reviews for autistic spectrum disorders typically consider only research on children with this syndrome. An alternative approach is to broaden the focus and consider intervention research on the many functional developmental deficits found in autistic spectrum disorders.
Elizabeth Tsakiris
Because so much information is available, and because that information can appear to be fairly anonymous, it is necessary to develop skills to evaluate what you find.
Elizabeth Kirk
Parents are strongly encouraged to investigate thoroughly any treatment approaches or nontraditional therapies prior to implementing them with their child. The following is a list of questions that should be considered.
South Dakota University Affiliated Program Autism, Related Disorders Program
The article makes the point that research should not be an activity carried out by others, using natural settings merely as sources of data, but a process that all practitioners are engaged in at some level.
Rita Jordan
Goals: To provide materials to assist in teaching how to evaluate the informational content of Web resources; to provide a bibliography of materials on applying critical thinking techniques to Web resources. (Course outline)
Jan Alexander, Marsha Ann Tate
When considering a nontraditional therapy or treatment approach for your child with autism, it is important to ask questions and carefully assess the program being offered.
Try a treatment for about two months before beginning a new one; complete the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist; tell no one when a child starts a new treatment; compile a list of changes in the child; note behavioral 'surprises'.
Stephen Edelson
Of the hundreds of remedies and interventions on offer to the half-million people with autism, of whom 100,000 are children, virtually none has been subjected to the stringent scientific evaluation required throughout the rest of health care.
Jane Feinmann, Independent U.K.
Within the field of autism, the attribute 'scientifically proven' is most commonly seen in reference to the results of early behavioral treatment, and in particular, one style of early behavioral treatment. In this article, such claims are evaluated.
M.A. Gernsbacher
The horror stories of what parents have done -- or what they have allowed to happen -- to their daughters and sons occur most often when they have abdicated their common sense and parental love in favor of professional opinion.
Weiss, Nancy
Discusses Auditory Integration Training, Doman-Delacato Treatment, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Facilitated Communication, Neural Organization Technique, Neuro Emotional Technique, Neurolinguistic Programming, etc.
Stephen Barrett
This report examines how conclusions about the progress of preschool children enrolled in early intervention programmes may be influenced by the use of different cognitive assessment tools. As part of a longitudinal treatment outcome study, 24 children with autism aged between 27 and 58 months were each tested on the Bayley, Merrill-Palmer and Vineland scales. Their performance on each of these tests was compared. Results showed that, while scores on the different tests were highly correlated, actual test scores varied considerably, with the Bayley tending to produce the lowest IQ scores and the Merrill-Palmer the highest. These findings have important implications, as it is evident that judgements about the effects of therapy may be significantly influenced by the selection of the tests for pre- and post-treatment assessments. Possible ways of collecting, recording and reporting test data, so as to avoid spurious conclusions about treatment effects, are discussed.
Iliana Magiati, Patricia Howlin
This anti-empirical stance in treatment has provided us with countless examples of blind alleys or even downright destructive treatments. Injections of secretin, facilitated communication, holding therapy, and countless others...
Bobby Newman
Discussions of Allergy treatments; Eye therapies; Bodywork; Multifaceted approaches; Evaluating alternative interventions
Mitzi Waltz
The following data have been collected from the more than 21,500 parents who have completed our questionnaires designed to collect information on the benefits-and adverse effects- of the large variety of drugs and other interventions
This study examined predictors of developmental outcomes in 17 children diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS, who received generic treatment over a mean period of 37 months. Pre-treatment evaluations occurred at a mean age of 31 months with follow-up evaluations at a mean age of 69 months. Significantly different developmental trajectories were observed among the participants at follow-up, separating the participants into two distinct groups (high and low outcome). However, groups did not differ significantly in treatment intensity or other outcome prediction measures. Pre-treatment developmental intelligence levels between the two groups approached significance. The results raise questions regarding the effect of treatment intensity and type, family stress factors, and intelligence ability in very early childhood on, outcome.
Robin L. Gabriels et al
Treatments of the sort considered pseudoscientific tend to be based on unlikely theories that are nonfalsifiable, to be advocated with extravagant claims of efficacy and with evidence that is largely or entirely anecdotal.
James Herbert, Ian Sharp
Be suspicious of any treatment which makes grandiose claims, and of professionals who publicize and promote their method or program as if it were a packageable commodity. Many treatments are composed of an eclectic mix of active and inactive ingredients.
Autism National Committee
An urgent demand from Connecticut parents for behavioral intervention resulted in the development of the River Street Autism Program (RSAP). This research-to-practice program implements intervention service based on empirical research findings conducted with children diagnosed with autism and pervasive developmental disorders. RSAP is provided through a regional service center and provides services for children entering the program at 2 to 5 years old. Because of the diverse nature of the districts served by RSAP, the delivered services varied according to the needs of the districts, available funding, and family preferences. Program evaluation data were therefore examined with regard to outcomes for children who received programs with differing numbers of treatment components. Treatment components that varied across children were treatment intensity, duration, extent of family participation, staff training, and supervision. Outcome data revealed that families reported greater gains in child functioning and quality of life when children received programs with more treatment components.
K. Dyer et al
Even the most promising treatments for autism rest on an insufficient research base, and are sometimes inappropriately and irresponsibly promoted as 'cures.'
James D. Herbert, Ian R. Sharp, Brandon A. Gaudiano
The nature of autism renders family members and other stakeholders vulnerable to highly dubious etiological theories and intervention strategies, many of which can be characterized as pseudoscientific.
James D. Herbert, Ian R. Sharp, Brandon A. Gaudiano
The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that at this time, the use of auditory integration training and facilitated communication does not appear warranted, except within research protocols.
Verna L. Rose
Subject selection, sample size, and choice of the primary outcome measure are closely interrelated and linked to the study hypothesis. The magnitude of expected improvement on the primary outcome measure, which can be expressed by effect size, has direct implications for sample size.
Lawrence Scahill, Catherine Lord
"In the search for promising novel therapies in autism, there is the potential for parents to be manipulated and children to be harmed." You said it, buster. (Review of Placebo Effects in Developmental Disabilities: Implications for Research and Practice by Adrian Sandler.)
Autism Diva
In the current situation, patients, families, practitioners, health administrators, and policy makers are forced to make important clinical decisions without clear empirical data to guide these choices.
National Institute of Mental Health
I believe you should have a healthy skepticism of any new or old nutritional product without studies either showing proof of efficacy or starting as a pharmaceutically pure product. This is not very likely at the present time.
Michael Goldberg
Comparison chart of behavioral, eclectic and developmental interventions.
Auditory integration, facilitated communication, hyperbaric oxygen, secretin, B6 and magnesium, DMG, intravenous immunoglobulin, AZT, steroids, antifungal medications, detoxification, chelation, dietary manipulations, sensory integration, etc.
Ronald Kallen
A little time on your part will pay big dividends as you seek to help your child. Remember, there's no rush to make a decision. It won't make any difference if you wait a few days to start a treatment plan.
Floyd Tilton
A good rule is to always consider the source and be especially wary of a possible vested interest (including economic) in a particular theory or treatment.
Ronald Kallen
An outline of the usual process of research by an ethical investigator as an idea wends its way from an initial seed to final flowering as new information that contributes to the overall body of knowledge.
Ronald Kallen
There is no current treatment that completely addresses the needs of the disability. Perhaps a complement of eclectic strategies is necessary to meet the complex challenges and spectrum of characteristics associated with autism.
Alexis Ann Schoen

Opinions expressed by the authors of pages to which this site links do not necessarily reflect this site developer's opinions. In other words: Sublime or ridiculous? You decide!
Copyright © 2004-2008, Kathleen Seidel. All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on 5 November 2008, 3:48 pm
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