Recommendations of expert panels & government task forces
Several expert panels and task forces have convened to review research on treatments for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Reports from these groups have been in agreement on several points:
- Behavioral and educational interventions are currently the main treatments for individuals with ASD.
- Of these interventions, approaches based on applied behavior analytic (ABA) have received the most extensive research, and this research indicates that ABA approaches are effective.
- Medications also may be effective for some individuals with ASD if they also display challenging behaviors such as aggression or hyperactivity. (Many individuals with ASD do not display these challenging behaviors, however.)
- There are a number of areas where additional research is needed. For example, most research on comprehensive ABA programs (i.e., programs that combine different teaching methods and aim to teach a variety of skills) has centered on preschoolers with ASD. Thus, research on outcomes of comprehensive intervention programs for older children and adults with ASD is a high priority.
Based on these conclusions, some reports have recommended ABA as the intervention of choice for individuals with ASD. Three important examples are the following:
- An updated report from MADSEC and the Maine Department of Education is available from http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cbhs/ebpac/asd-report2009.pdf
Others have noted that other approaches resemble ABA in many respects and may be as effective. An important example is the following:
Because ABA currently has substantially more scientific support than any other behavioral or educational intervention for children with ASD, ASAT recommends that families and professionals strongly consider implementing ABA and be cautious about other approaches. ASAT further recommends that professionals describe other behavioral and educational interventions as untested and encourage families who are considering these interventions to evaluate them carefully