Autism interventions published in landmark report

Friday, 13 November, 2020

Autism interventions published in landmark report

Autism CRC has published a landmark report, detailing the best available high-quality evidence about interventions for children on the autism spectrum aged up to 12 years.

Evidence shows that effective intervention during childhood plays an important role in promoting learning and participation in everyday life activities for children on the autism spectrum, who make up approximately 2.4% of Australian children under the age of 14 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018). But, navigating the range of interventions can be difficult.

Interventions for children on the autism spectrum: A synthesis of research evidence — intended for families, clinicians, researchers and policymakers — was commissioned by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and produced by an expert team of researchers engaged by Autism CRC.

Autism CRC Research Strategy Director and Project Chair Professor Andrew Whitehouse said the report is critical because it provides families and clinicians the best opportunity to make informed decisions when choosing interventions.

“The report includes a broad overview of intervention for children on the autism spectrum, including the principles underpinning all interventions, and the rationale behind each category of intervention, such as developmental interventions, behavioural interventions or technology-based interventions,” Professor Whitehouse said.

“It also provides a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence for the effects of interventions for children on the spectrum, both therapeutic and otherwise. The evidence review was conducted to international best-practice standards, including only the highest quality of evidence.

“A total of 58 systematic reviews were included in the review of evidence. These drew on data from 1787 unique studies,” he said.

Project Deputy Chair and Associate Professor in Speech Pathology at Griffith University David Trembath said the report will be of benefit to the whole autism community.

“Families can use this report to learn about the different types of interventions and select those that are most likely to be helpful for their child and family as a whole,” Associate Professor Trembath said.

“Australia has among the best-trained clinicians in the world. This report will help clinicians to further understand the evidence underpinning the interventions they do and do not provide, and guide their clinical practice accordingly.

“Key policy decisions should always be informed by robust evidence. This report presents the current evidence for Australia’s policymakers. And for researchers, the report is a roadmap for the work that still needs to be done,” he said.

Autism CRC CEO Andrew Davis said an enormous amount of work had gone into producing this report.

“This report would not have been possible without the cooperation and substantial contributions of numerous researchers and clinicians from a diverse range of professions. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its development,” Davis said.

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