Giving parents and professionals authoritative information is the purpose of a new review spearheaded by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Without a thorough review of autism interventions, Allison Smith of Pawtucket, R.I., might never have asked to try video-modeling to help her twin sons, age 4, develop the key motor skill of blowing a feather, a steppingstone to speech.
UNC is one of three NPDC operating sites.
"Knowing what works has given us the upper hand in acquiring appropriate therapy and tools."
Autism incurs an average lifetime price tag of $3.2 million per person, according to a 2007 research study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine but the Autism Society estimates that early diagnosis and effective interventions can reduce that lifetime cost by two-thirds.
|Samuel L. Odom|
"This report will allow them to make the best choices."
In this five-year update for the NPDC, UNC scientists screened 29,000 articles about autism spectrum disorders to find the ones proven to work best.
Compared to the 24 proven interventions in the 2008 report, the new report lists 27.
Applying even more stringent criteria this time, the FPG team dropped "structured work systems" and added five practices: "exercise," "structured play groups," "scripting," "modeling" and "cognitive behaviour intervention."
After considering more studies, scientists also renamed and broadened one category, "technology-aided instruction."
NPDC's report on evidence-based practices provides important guidance for professionals and families.
Before NPDC's list, parents and professionals often searched for practices online, with unreliable results.
"Our report only includes what's tried and true."
More information: Report: autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu (PDF)