Autism is a disorder with no known cause or cure. Parents of children with ASD will understandably pursue interventions and treatments that offer the possibility of helping their child, particularly if they are perceived as unlikely to have any adverse effects. Unfortunately, families are often exposed to unsubstantiated, pseudoscientific theories, and related clinical practices that are ineffective and compete with validated treatments, or that have the potential to result in physical, emotional, or financial harm. The time, effort, and financial resources spent on ineffective treatments can create an additional burden on families. As a result, parents, caregivers, advocates, and educators everywhere are eager for credible, research-based information on the most effective treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). To address this need, the National Autism Center has released its newest manual, A Parent's Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism, to help parents and caregivers differentiate empirically validated treatment approaches from treatments that are unproven and/or potentially ineffective.
The 134-page manual focuses on helping parents as they make decisions about how to best help children with ASD reach their full potential. It begins with a review of the autism spectrum, symptoms, and co-occurring conditions, and identifies and describes effective treatments. Other topics include the importance of professional judgment, the role of family preferences and values in the decision-making process, and factors to consider when choosing a team of professionals to help their child.
“Finding information about autism is easy. It is much more difficult to find reliable information that has withstood the rigors of science, is comprehensive in scope, and is accessible and easy to read,” saidHanna C. Rue, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Director of Evidence-based Practice for the National Autism Center and one of the manual’s authors. “Even for a trained professional, sorting through the clutter to find information that is most relevant to a child’s needs is a complicated and challenging process.”
One of the most distinctive and important features of this manual is that it was co-authored by professionals and parents of children with autism. “As professionals, we think about treatment from an entirely different perspective than a parent,” Dr. Rue comments. “We felt it was critical that the parent experience be reflected in every aspect of the manual.”
The manual is the latest in a series of publications by the National Autism Center. Visit the Center’s website to download a free copy, watch a video, or learn more.
An advocate for evidence-based treatment approaches, the National Autism Center identifies effective programming and shares practical information with families about how to respond to the challenges they face. The Center also conducts applied research and develops training and service models for practitioners. Finally, the Center works to shape public policy concerning ASD and its treatment through the development and dissemination of National Standards of Practice.