Questions to Ask Marketers of Autism Interventions
Written by Daniel Mruzek, PhD, BCBA-D
Families with a member with autism know that there is a vast selection of potential treatment options. Some of these treatments are purported to address one or more of the core features of autism (e.g., a pill that supposedly improves spoken communication), while others are marketed as treatments for other difficulties commonly experienced by individuals with autism (e.g., exercises to reduce tantrums). Many of these interventions are expensive and time-consuming, and some are potentially dangerous (e.g., hyperbaric chamber). Like other “purchasing” decisions, families need to consider treatment options carefully.
How does one investigate these options? One way is to ask a trusted expert (e.g., a physician, psychologist, behavior analyst). Another way is to reference science-based “quick reference” guides, such as ASAT’s web-based Summaries of Scientific Research on Interventions on Autism. A third way to investigate the soundness of a potential autism treatment is to ask the marketer or practitioner polite, but direct questions about the treatment that they recommend. Below, we have eight questions that you can ask the marketer of an autism intervention that might be helpful as you make treatment decisions.
Family members might be a little apprehensive about asking marketers of purported autism interventions direct questions about the state-of-the-science of their interventions; however, a legitimate interventionist will appreciate good questions and the resultant opportunities to partner with the family in the development of effective treatments. This process of direct questioning is one way we can practice scientific skepticism – a quality of the scientific process that makes it such a powerful means of positive change. Also, this process increases the likelihood that hard-earned family income is spent wisely in maximizing the independence of their member with autism.
Additional information on selecting treatments for your family member is found in an article entitled, The Road Less Traveled: Charting a Clear Course for Autism Treatment, authored by David Celiberti and colleagues and found here.
Mruzek, D. (2013). Questions to ask marketers of autism interventions. Science in Autism Treatment, 10(4), 12-13.