Red Flags to Consider When Evaluating ASD Interventions

For parents of children who have autism spectrum disorder or ASD, one of the greatest ongoing challenges is determining which treatments have value and which do not.

Unfortunately, this is not always a simple task. There are hundreds of purported treatments for ASD and related disorders available today, and not all of them are beneficial. If you are trying to evaluate the potential value of an ASD intervention, watch out for these warning signs:

The intervention isn’t backed up by scientific evidence.

When you look at a website offering therapy for ASD, look at the evidence that is offered to support its effectiveness. If the evidence is purely anecdotal, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the therapy’s efficacy. If the intervention has been supported by research published in peer-reviewed journals, then it is much more likely to be a legitimate treatment that could be helpful for your child.

The intervention provider does not have credentials.

It is important that the intervention provider has appropriate training and credentials. Being licensed by the state to perform a service, and being certified by a legitimate organization, is one indication—though it is by no means a guarantee—that the service provided may have value. If the intervention team includes individuals without advanced degrees or credentials, the supervisor should have the appropriate credentials and provide an appropriate level of supervision.

The intervention is not individualized.

The most effective treatments for ASD are those that are adapted for each individual. No two people experience ASD in precisely the same way, so there is no catch-all treatment that can be applied with equal effectiveness to every situation. Your child’s intervention plan should identify his or her unique needs and strengths to build upon.

There is no objective measure of progress.

In addition to having intervention goals that are individualized, a sound treatment will collect information (i.e., data) on your child’s progress. The information collected should be used to adapt the intervention plan to meet your child’s need to ensure continued progress is being made.

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