The field of autism spectrum disorders is constantly changing and evolving. Practically every single day we are learning more about how to serve and support this population in order for them to learn critical skills and become more independent. Because of such on-going changes in the field of ASD, it is necessary for educators, medical personnel, parents, and other service providers to stay up-to-date on best practices for interventions and strategies available to those with ASD.
As we support those on the spectrum, we know we must provide effective interventions and use strategies that will result in learning and skill development. There are a number of interventions that have been utilized with individuals with ASD, in fact, there is an almost overwhelming amount. However, it is important to note that not all interventions are created equal and not all are appropriate for implementation. To ensure educators, parents, and service providers are providing the best supports possible to help the person with ASD flourish, interventions deemed to be evidence-based are necessary.
Evidence-based practices are those that have been researched and are widely accepted and recognized as effective techniques. There are a number of accepted evidence-based practices regarding autism spectrum disorder. On this page you will find a variety of resources to help you identify and implement evidence-based practices. Whether you are a person with ASD, a caregiver, or a professional, these links will help you stay up to date and provide the best intervention for yourself, your child, or your student.
The National Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders is a multi-university center dedicated to the promotion of evidence-based practices for ASD. The Center operates three sites at UC Davis MIND Institute, Waisman Center, and the Franklin Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Each of these websites delivers a wealth of information including online training modules, resources, factsheets, and more.
The National Autism Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting best practices among families, educators, and professionals in the field of ASD. The NAC has an online library and a collection of resources, including articles and information on the National Standards Project and the National Standards Report.
The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, or OCALI, is a clearinghouse of information on autism research, resources, and trends. The OCALI website contains training and technical assistance including assessment resources and ASD service guidelines.
The Organization for Autism Research is an organization focused entirely on applied research, meaning the group uses practical research to address the day-to-day challenges of ASD at home, in the classroom, in the workplace, and in the community.
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, or IACC, is a federally funded initiative created by the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and reauthorization in 2011. The IACC coordinates ASD related activities across the United States Health and Human Services Department and the Office of Autism Research. The IACC publishes yearly summary advance updates from the field of autism spectrum disorders.
Guides and Factsheets
The Organization for Autism Research has an extensive parents' guide to research document that helps a parent to be a savvy consumer of research and to determine good sources of information in autism.
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders has created Evidence Based Briefs that outline 24 different practices determined to be evidence-based and provides a thorough description of how to implement the strategy.
The National Autism Center has developed the National Standards Report which provides an overview of the National Autism Center and provides a list and description of evidence based practices and the level of scientific evidence available for each.
The National Autism Center has developed A Parent's Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism, which provides resources and information to families of children with ASD on strategies and supports.
The National Autism Center has developed an Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools guide which provides information on evidence-based practices and considerations for implementation in the educational setting.
The Virginia Autism Council (VAC) created a guide to support best practices for educating students with ASD through the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Virginia Supporting Individuals with ASD Across the Lifespan. The Council has also created a highly useful Professional Development Tracker for both professionals and paraprofessionals and a PowerPoint presentation that explains how to use the tools. The information in the Skill Competencies can be useful whether you are an educator, professional, family member, or individual with ASD.
VCU-ACE has developed several Factsheets related to evidence-based practices:
Videos and Training
VCU-ACE has developed several online courses, which may be beneficial to family members, professionals, and educators of school-aged children with ASD. The Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder was designed to provide teachers, related service providers, paraprofessionals, administrators, families, and other service providers with skills and knowledge needed to support students with an ASD who demonstrate interfering behavior in the school setting. The course provides participants with information regarding the impact of the core deficits of ASD on behavior and positive approaches to understanding behavior. Participants will gain knowledge of the functional approach to behavior, providing behavioral support in the educational environment, understanding the behavior chain, the process of conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment, development and implementation of a behavior intervention plan, strategies for intervening with interfering behavior, and identifying and teaching replacement behavior. The 4-week course is facilitated by VCU-ACE staff and is free to residents of VA.
VCU-ACE has developed several Seminars on Environmental Structure and Visual Supports, which include information on the use of schedules, visual supports, and structuring the environment and tasks for individuals with ASD. A detailed list of the seminars can be found on the VCU-ACE website.
Virginia's Training and Technical Assistance Centers are a statewide system designed to improve education and opportunities for individuals with disabilities ages 0-22. The Centers provide quality training and technical assistance in response to local, regional, and state needs. T/TAC services increase the capacity of schools, school personnel, service providers, and families to meet the needs of children and youth. The regional T/TAC's provide consultations, newsletters, resources, planning, presentations, workshops and trainings, as well as, referrals to other services.
Autism Internet Modules has an online training module regarding evidence-based practices.
Autism Training Solutions has a large amount of resources for evidence-based curriculum, including a video library, for service providers, schools, and universities.
Research and Articles
de Bruin, C.L., Deppeler, J.M., Moore, D.W., & Diamond, N.T. (2013). Public school-based interventions for adolescents and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 83(4), 521-550.
Dunlap, G., Carr, E.G., Horner, R. H., Koegel, R.L., Sailor, W. Clarke, S., et al. (2010). A descriptive multiyear examination of positive behavior support. Behavioral Disorders, 35(4), 259-279.
Mesibov, G.B., & Shea, V. (2011). Evidence-based practices and autism. Autism, 15(1), 114-133.
Odom, S.L., Boyd, B.A., Hall, L.J., & Hume, K.J. (2010). Evaluation of comprehensive treatment models for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(4), 425-36.
Odom, S., Collet-Klingenberg, L., Rogers, S.J., & Hatton, D.D. (2010). Evidence-based practices in interventions for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders. Preventing School Failure, 54(4), 275-82.
Reichow, B. & Volkmar, F.R. (2010). Social skills interventions for individuals with autism: Evaluation for Evidence-Based Practices within a best evidence synthesis framework. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 149-166.