What are evidence-based practices?

“Evidence based practice” refers to intervention strategies which have been proven through rigorous replicated research to be effective in improving skill acquisition for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Positive Partnerships (2014) notes that with increasing choice in therapy options, there is:

“…an increasing need for parents and professionals to critically evaluate potential interventions when deciding on which approach(es) to use”.

In an extensive review of the literature on intervention therapies for individuals on the autism spectrum, The Australian Society for Autism Research (2011) and the National Autism Centre (NAC; 2015) agree that there are several levels of evidence. These range from the weakest form which relies on anecdotal or testimonial claims, through to the strongest type of research based on randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.

There are a number of useful resources available which help to explain these levels of evidence and offer advice regarding decision making:

  • Autism Tasmania’s quarterly magazine Spectrum News article Evidence Based Practices (Autism Tasmania, Summer 2015) provides an overview of the different levels of evidence.
  • Positive Partnerships (2014) offers a helpful visual tool for representing the levels of evidence. For further information, see the Positive Partnerships Fact Sheet Using Evidence to Guide Decision Making
  • the Australian Raising Children’s Network Guide to Therapies is a useful tool for quickly assessing the evidence rating of many different therapies
  • The National Autism Centre has conducted a systematic review of autism interventions and have published various guides to evidence based practices in autism for parents, educators and professionals. These guides include a list and description of current established evidence based interventions.