National Autism Center Report

2 Oct
This just came up on my radar, and I thought I would check it out.
Before I even get into anything about the report itself, I do want to mention that actually getting a copy of the report involves submitting your name, email and state. I looked for any privacy notices regarding this information, but didn’t see any. So before even reading it, I resolved that I was going to mention this hoop that everyone must jump through. I think it is needless and detrimental to the stated primary mission of the organization which is to help professionals and families of individuals with autism. If you’re going to release the report to the public, then release it. If you’re going to harvest information from people who want to see the information, then be explicit about that.
Having said that, I went ahead and submitted my information, trusting that I wouldn’t be spammed into oblivion. I then download all 3 of the options and began reading.
For those of us who have actually read scientific studies and literature on the subject of autism, the results are not too surprising. It is long overdue, where an scientifically authoritative group came out and said what needed to be said about various treatments for autism. So it is no surprise to me that almost all of the 11 established treatments are behavioral in nature, simply because behavioral treatments lend themselves particularly well to the rigors of scientific study.

The 11 Established Treatments are: Antecedent

Package; Behavioral Package; Comprehensive

Behavioral Treatment for Young Children; Joint

Attention Intervention; Modeling; Naturalistic

Teaching Strategies; Peer Training Package; Pivotal

Response Treatment; Schedules; Self-management;

and Story-based Intervention Package.

The most interesting findings, for me, were the 5 “unestablished treatments” for which there was no sound or effective evidence of efficacy.

1. Academic intervetions

2. Auditory integration training

3. Facilitated communication

4. Gluten free- casein free diet

5. Sensory intergrative package

While the report did not identify any of the interventions as ineffective or harmful, they stopped just short of calling the GFCF diet harmful, and cited studies where the results show potentially harmful side-effects.

About 22 treatments were in the “Emerging Treament” category, which suggests that there is some evidence that suggest benefit, but these lack sufficient evidence to meet the level of being established.

The following treatments have been identified as falling into the Emerging

level of evidence:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device {14 studies}

Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Package {3 studies}

Developmental Relationship-based Treatment {7 studies}

Exercise {4 studies}

Exposure Package {4 studies}

Imitation-based Interaction {6 studies}

Initiation Training {7 studies}

Language Training (Production) {13 studies}

Language Training (Production & Understanding) {7 studies}

Massage/Touch Therapy {2 studies}

Multi-component Package {10 studies}

Music Therapy {6 studies}

Peer-mediated Instructional Arrangement {11 studies}

Picture Exchange Communication System {13 studies}

Reductive Package {33 studies}

Scripting {6 studies}

Sign Instruction {11 studies}

Social Communication Intervention {5 studies}

Social Skills Package {16 studies}

Structured Teaching {4 studies}

Technology-based Treatment {19 studies}

Theory of Mind Training {4 studies}

I do recommend looking at the site and reading the full report before taking any actions. As teachers, we really should be familiar with this research and be prepared to discuss it with parents. I imagine that quite a few parents might find fault with this report, especially when it comes to the GFCF diet. Also, there is no mention of chelation, hippotherapy, secretin, glowing crystals, shamans, voodoo, vitamin B12, megavitamins, biomedical extracts or other assorted suppliments and interventions. Parents are going to do what parents are going to do, whatever the scientific community says, regardless. But at least this update offers a degree of hope for those parents who are just entering the autism spectrum world. Until this report came out, there were NO treatments that were judged established or even efficacious. So the prognosis for today’s children is much better today than it was a decade ago when I became a parent.
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