There are many interventions in existence claiming to be beneficial for individuals with autism. However, the field itself seems to be a magnet for interventions and therapies that are based in pseudo-science and have no research to support them. At worst, some of these interventions can be harmful and even if not directly harmful using resources such as time and money on ineffective interventions and therapies is wasteful.
Individuals, caregiver and service providers can sometimes have a hard time distinguishing evidence based interventions from other interventions. Luckily, there are several resources that provide much needed information about evidence based information. Here are some of our favorites:
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment’s (ASAT) mission is to promote safe, effective, science-based treatments for people with autism by disseminating accurate, timely, and scientifically sound information, advocating for the use of scientific methods to guide treatment, and combating unsubstantiated, inaccurate and false information about autism and its’ treatment. ASAT’s website contains research summaries on numerous psychological, educational, therapeutic, and biomedical interventions. It contains numerous resources that can assist self-advocates, families, and services providers to be savvy consumers of autism interventions.
The National Autism Center is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as dedicated to disseminating evidence-based information about the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, promoting best practices, and offering comprehensive and reliable resources for families, practitioners and communities. In 2009, they published the National Standards Report, which was the result of multi-year project extensively reviewing research on intervention strategies. In 2015, they released an update. You can access both reports on the website as well as other resources such as a manuals for parents and educators.
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) was a project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs in the US Department of Education and was a collaboration of three universities. The project resulted in the identification of evidence-based practices for autism spectrum disorder and numerous resources related to those practices. They have online modules related to the 27 evidence-based practices identified called Autism Focused Intervention Resource Modules (AFIRM).
The Organization for Autism Research’s (OAR) mission is to apply research to the challenges of autism. In addition to providing funding for applied autism research, they provide numerous resources to families and self-advocates, provide information on safety and provide scholarships to individuals with autism. They have published a number of helpful resources including Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safety, A Parent’s Guide to Research, and A Guide for Transition to Adulthood.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) is a university-based technical assistance, training, and educational research center serving those in Virginia with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Their website is full of resources on evidence-based practices including fact sheets, free courses and webcasts, and a how-to video series that demonstrates evidence-based practices for individuals with autism.