The latest reports from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 1:88 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. What is autism? Autism is not a specific disease but a collection of complex disorders of the brain known as autism spectrum disorders or ASD’s. Why has the number of children diagnosed increased steadily over the past few years? One could speculate that the increase could be a result of a combination of factors. For example, more behaviors are being included in the definition of ASD (the definition is changing again with the new DSM-5 this year). As well, public and medical professionals are able to identify the diagnosis earlier with better screening tools. As autism becomes more prevalent, medical professionals, researchers and parents continue to try to understand the best treatment interventions. Often parents receive the diagnosis and then are left to wonder, “now what?” Navigating these options can be overwhelming. There are several books, magazines and plenty of information online that can provide information about current autism treatments. The problem is that the information presented can sometimes be misleading and may imply the interventions will be effective even without substantial validated research to support their claims. So an important consideration when choosing treatments for your child with autism is to ask yourself:
The National Professional Development Center (NPDC) on ASD has adopted the following definition of evidence-based practices (EBP).
Definition of Evidence-Based Practice:
To be considered an evidence-based practice for individuals with ASD, efficacy must be established through peer-reviewed research in scientific journals using:
2. Is ABA evidence based?
Yes. To this date, several peer reviewed research articles have been published demonstrating the effectiveness of using specific ABA strategies to support positive behavioral interventions and skill acquisition. ABA techniques have been well researched and demonstrated to be one of the best treatments available for children with ASD, other developmental disorders or behavioral concerns to increase independent and educational functioning. The scientific principles of ABA can be effectively utilized to understand behaviors, minimize concerning behaviors as well as teach new skills and desired behaviors.
With all this said, parents you know your child the best. You are an expert on your child’s needs. Not every child will benefit from the same treatment packages. Hopefully some of this knowledge will help you in making these important decisions.
Be well and Happy New Year 2013 :)