Autism Website Review:
One of the greatest challenges that parents of a child with autism must face is determining which therapies and treatments are most appropriate for their child. This task can be overwhelming. Parents are often faced with seemingly unlimited choices. Unfortunately, it is unknown how effective many of these autism treatments actually are. A major effort by the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center attempted to locate and summarize the available research for the many treatments and therapies available for children with autism. Their work was published in an ebook titled Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
This book is no easy read. At 908 pages it might be considered overwhelming in and of itself. However, it serves as an outstanding resource for individuals looking for a summary of pertinent research involving a specific treatment or therapy for autism.
The purpose of the project was to provide a review of autism treatments geared toward children between the ages of 2 and 12 with a diagnosis of autism. Research is included that took place between January 2000 and May 2010. Only medical studies including 30 or more participants were included in the review. Behavioral, educational, and allied health research was only included if the studies utilized 10 or more participants.
The project narrowed the research down to 159 studies. They rated 13 of these as good quality studies, 56 as having fair quality, and 90 as poor quality. From these studies the following conclusions were determined:
- Risperdal (risperidone) and Abilify (aripiprazole) improve aggression, emotional distress, hyperactivity, and self-injury but also result in many side effects
- No medications help the social and communication issues associated with autism
- Data suggests early behavioral and developmental interventions may help improve cognitive ability, adaptive behavior, and language
- Parent training and cognitive behavioral therapy may help improve social communication, language use, and severity of symptoms
- Limited evidence exists to support other treatments and therapies for autism spectrum disorders
The review also suggests a need for more and larger studies to be conducted, especially in regard to behavioral and educational therapies. They also state the need for improved methods to be utilized in the studies being conducted to research autism treatments.
It should be noted that treatments not listed in this review may or may not be effective. The review project simply compiled the pertinent research conducted over a 10 year period and summarized the findings of that research. If little to no research had been conducted on a particular autism treatment or therapy, then the review project likely did not include that treatment in the review (i.e. it may not have been included in the 159 studies examined in the review project).
- View the PDF Version of Therapies of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Summarized Version of the Autism Therapies Review