Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Autism Interventions Ranked - EIBI (ABA) Best - Facilitated Communication Worst

A list of autism intervention rankings by Research Autism, a UK charity, is available online at:

Research Autism in its own words:

Research Autism is the only UK charity exclusively dedicated to research into interventions in autism .

Established in 2003 as the Autism Intervention Research Trust, we commission, carry out and support high quality, independent research into new and existing health, education, social and other interventions. Our goal is the improvement of quality of life and outlook, for the individuals affected and those around them.

We have the active support of some of the world’s leading figures in autism and research. They have given freely of their time and expertise to work with us. We also work closely with our research sponsor, the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, as well as with the National Autistic Society.

Not surprisingly, Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (ABA) received the highest ranking and Facilitated Communication received the worst ranking amongst the numerous interventions ranked. I say not surprisingly because those rankings are consistent with other professional and academic reviews of the efficacy of autism interventions.

EIBI received 3 green check marks indicating Very strong, positive evidence * 2 or more Grade A studies or * 1 Grade A study and 3 or more Grade B studies. The majority of these studies show significant positive effects

Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention(Back)

Ranking :
[Very strong positive evidence]
Type : Behavioural

This is a highly structured and intense intervention in which a child is taught a range of skills by a team of therapists.

The therapists break down the skills into small tasks that are achievable and taught in a very structured manner.

Desired behaviour, such as use of language or socialisation is positively reinforced and accompanied by lots of praise. Negative behaviour, such as self harm or aggression is ignored or punished.

* There is strong evidence to suggest that EIBI programmes are effective for many children with autism.

* However, individual response to treatment is variable and these programmes do not result in improvements in all areas of functioning.

* For some children, alternative interventions, such as specialist pre-school placements may produce comparable results and may offer greater opportunity for interactions with peers.

* If EIBI is undertaken, the possible impact on parents (in terms of time, finances, organisation involvement with other siblings) should be considered.

Also not surprising, Facilitated Communication received the worst ranking of any of the interventions assessed - 3 X's - Very strong negative evidence. * More than 1 Grade A study showing no significant positive effects or * 3 or more Grade B studies showing no significant positive effects or * 1 Grade A study plus more than 2 Grade B studies showing no significant effects.

In addition to 3 X's; FC also received 3 question marks indicating Very strong evidence of harmful effects. Any Grade A or B studies indicating adverse/harmful effects.

Facilitated communication is designed to help people with limited communication develop their pointing skills.

Someone else physically supports the the individual so that he can point to pictures, symbols, letters and/or words.

By doing this, the individual can demonstrate what he wants to communicate.

There is a significant body of evidence to show facilitated communication is ineffective when used with people with autistic spectrum disorders.

There is also evidence it can lead to significant harm.

For these reasons we do not believe that it is an appropriate intervention for people with autistic spectrum disorders.

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