This groundbreaking report covers a broad range of applied treatments and identifies the level of scientific evidence available for each. It includes 775 research studies – the largest number of studies ever reviewed. For the first time, families were able to find specific information about the age groups, treatment targets, and diagnostic populations to which these treatments have been applied.
The findings of the National Standards Project (Phase 1) include the identification of:
11 “Established” Treatments: treatments that produce beneficial outcomes and are known to be effective for individuals on the autism spectrum. The overwhelming majority of these interventions were developed in the behavioral literature (e.g., applied behavior analysis, behavioral psychology, and positive behavior support).
22 “Emerging” Treatments: treatments that have some evidence of effectiveness, but not enough for us to be confident that they are truly effective.
5 “Unestablished” Treatments: treatments for which there is no sound evidence of effectiveness. There is no way to rule out the possibility these treatments are ineffective or harmful.
The National Standards Report encourages parents, educators, and service providers to use this information about treatment effectiveness as they make decisions about which treatments to select. It also strongly advises decision makers to consider other factors in addition to treatment effectiveness, including the judgment and data-based clinical recommendations of qualified professional(s), the values and preferences of the individual with ASD and those who care for him/her, and the capacity of their local schools and/or treatment programs to deliver the treatment correctly.
The project identified significant limitations of current autism treatment research. The National Autism Center is hopeful that the results of the project will encourage the research community to concentrate its efforts and conduct more research in areas that have not been studied adequately. In addition, research on all treatments should be extended to appropriate age groups, treatment targets, and diagnostic populations.