Linking parents and providers to current research and best practices regarding the causes and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a priority of the Oklahoma Autism Network. Research and best practices information is important to making decisions and maintaining a solid knowledge and understanding of autism spectrum disorders including signs and symptoms, screening and diagnostic procedures, core challenge areas for skill development, intervention methodologies, and assessment, implementation and evaluation of interventions. The medical community, professional organizations, and federal laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) have charged and require educational and medical professionals to use research and evidence based practices.
Evidence based practice is the use of the most current available research, the professional's clinical experience and the client's (family and individual) values. When evidence or research is not available, families and professionals together should determine the best possible outcomes and measure the effectiveness of the intervention that is being provided. The information within this section is intended to assist professionals and families in making decisions using the best information that is currently available on ASD.
Understanding research bias is important to evaluating the usefulness of the information provided on a specific topic. Consider the following:
The best research will be in professional journals. Look for journals in the fields of medicine, psychology, psychiatry, speech/language pathology, early childhood education, special education, and physical and occupational therapy. You can access a university library to explore these journals or many journals are also available online now by entering the journal name. Look for journals that are peer-reviewed, requiring articles to be submitted and reviewed by a credible group of individuals before being printed in the journal.
When reading a study, look to see who is funding the project. Caution research that is being funded by an organization or company who will benefit either financially or by professional reputation from the results of an intervention.
Look for independent research studies conducted by experts who have nothing to gain (or lose) by the results of the study. Their research is strictly objective.
Look for current research studies. If you find a study more than five years old, try to find out if anything new has been published. Up-to-date research will be the most valid.
Caution information posted on ".com" websites. Anyone can create a website and post information about treatment for children. Find out who sponsors the webpage and if they gain anything by posting faulty evidence.
PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES AND CLINICAL REPORTS
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Practice Parameters for Children, Adolescent, and Adult with Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders
American Academy of Neurology: Practice Parameters for Screening and Diagnosis of Autism
American Academy of Pediatrics: Identification and Evaluation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Clinical Report)
American Academy of Pediatrics: Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Clinical Report)
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) - In 2006, four documents were developed by ASHA outlining the role of the SLP in working with individuals with autism, as well as the knowledge and skills needed to serve this population. To read the four documents, go to http://asha.org/public/speech/disorders/autismSLPbenefits.htm