Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., Brock, M. E., Plavnick, J. B., Fleury, V. P., & Schultz, T. R.

Evidence-based intervention practices (EBPs) for children with ASD are the basis on which effective programs are built. In the previous review and analysis of the literature from 1997-2007, the National Professional Development Center on ASD (NPDC) identified 24 practices that met the evidentiary criteria they had established. The research on focused intervention practices has accelerated in recent years, requiring an ongoing process for updating and communicating the most current scientific knowledge about practices to practitioners and families.

The new EBP report describes the process that NPDC followed in identifying EBPs for children and youth with ASD and the results of the updates reviews of the literature. Using five databases (EBSCO, EMBASE, Medline, ISI, Sociological Abstracts) and a range of descriptors (e.g., autism, Asperger, intervention), the initial search generated over 29,000 articles published between 1990 and 2011. After screening to ensure articles employed an experimental, quasi-experimental or single case design that tested and intervention with children and youth having ASD, the number of articles was reduced to 1,090. Criteria for determining methodological acceptability of individual were developed. One hundred fifty-nine reviewers completed training, met inter-rater agreement criteria, and evaluated the acceptability of the article methodology. Articles identified as acceptable were sorted using categories for practices established by the previous NPDC review and the National Standards Project. A final determination was then made about whether a practice meets the level of evidence necessary to be classified as an EBP using the following criteria: (a) two high quality experimental or quasi-experimental design studies, or (b) five single case design studies conducted by three different research groups and involving a total of 20 participants across studies, or (c) there is combination of research designs, which must include at least one high quality experimental/quasi-experimental design and three high quality single case designs. From the 1,090 articles, 456 articles were accepted as providing scientific evidence. Content analyses of procedures produced 27 different practices (see report for details). The revised literature search and analysis by staff of the NPDC has identified focused intervention practices that will provide a solid, empirical basis on which to design programs for children and youth with ASD.

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Citation: Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., . . . Schultz, T. R. (2014). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group.