Comprehensive Educational and Behavioral Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders

October 19, 2011 | Evidence Reports


This report evaluates the efficacy of comprehensive educational and behavioral interventions for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). For this report, comprehensive educational or behavioral interventions are defined as interventions that use multiple treatment strategies to address most or all of the deficits/symptoms associated with ASD. The use of these interventions to treat conditions other than ASD is outside the scope of this report, as are other forms of treatment for ASD, such as focal interventions (e.g., discrete trial training, pivotal response training); pharmacologic or dietary interventions or any other treatment that aims to have a physiologic effect; auditory or sensory integration; surgical interventions; special education; paramedical therapies (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy); or alternative treatments (e.g., music therapy, massage therapy). These other forms of treatment are only considered when they are being directly compared to a comprehensive educational or behavioral intervention within a study that meets the study selection criteria for this review.

A number of comprehensive treatment programs are available for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In general, these programs use a combination of interventions that collectively target education, skill development, and problematic behavior. Most such programs emphasize early intervention, the importance of individualizing interventions to meet the needs of each child and family, and intensive hours of treatment, usually >15 hours per week over one or more years.

Theoretical orientation distinguishes one program from another. Some are behaviorally oriented (i.e., primarily utilize methods known as Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA); others are developmentally oriented (i.e., Individual-difference, Relationship-based model or DIR model); and...

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