An important contribution to the field was made by Simpson et al. (2005) when they differentiated evidence-based practices promising practices, practices with limited support and practices that are not recommended for students with autism spectrum disorders.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) present a perplexing challenge for parents and school professionals. Literally dozens of interventions and treatments are available, so how does one know which intervention strategy works best for any given child or situation? Evidence-based practices are those that have significant and convincing empirical efficacy and support (Simpson, 2005). An important contribution to the field was made by Simpson et al. (2005) when they differentiated evidence-based practices promising practices, practices with limited support and practices that are not recommended for students with autism spectrum disorders. According to Simpson et al. (2005), evidence-based practices that have convincing empirical efficacy include those described below.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) emphasizes proactive, preventative approaches while also providing effective strategies for intervening after a behavior has occurred. The methodology involves an ongoing comprehensive analysis of the individual’s environment, which includes adaptive meaningful curriculum, motivating instructional activities and positive classroom structure to increase desired behaviors.
Learning Experiences: An Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Parents (LEAP)
LEAP is a developmentally-integrated preschool program for typically developing children and peers with autism. Key elements to the LEAP program include helping to develop social and emotional skills, enhancing language and communication abilities, and increasing independence in work and play activities. Typically developing peers are taught social scripts and trained to interact in a social exchange. LEAP also offers a comprehensive parent education program by providing real help in real- world home and community settings.
Pivotal Response Training
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) targets communicative behaviors to be taught in natural environments using items that are age appropriate and motivating to the child. PRT has been used extensively to improve play skills such as manipulative play and symbolic play and is based on discrete trial training methods. Unlike most traditional ABA programs, these trials take place in a more natural play setting (Simpson, 2005). See Koegel, Schreibman, Good, Cerniglia, Murphy, and Koegel (1989) for detailed instruction on the use of Pivotal Response Training techniques.
Discrete Trial Instruction
Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) is used when a student needs to learn a skill, but needs the information taught in small repeated steps. It can be utilized during an adult to student, one-to-one teaching situation and when skills need to be taught in a controlled and systematic manner. Data collection is also an important part of the DTI format. The steps of discretetrial instruction include gaining the child’s attention, then presenting the child with an instruction. The instruction is then followed by a prompt, if needed, to elicit the child to make a correct response. The teacher then provides reinforcement.
Additional Resources for Evidenced-Based Practices
Koegel, R.L., Schreibman, L., Good, A., Cerniglia, L., Murphy, C., & Koegel, L. (1989). How to teach pivotal behaviors
to children with autism: A training manual. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California.
Simpson, R.L. (2005). Evidence-based practices and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism and
Other Developmental Disabilities, 20(3), 140-149.
Simpson, R., De Boer-Ott, S.R., Griswold, D.E, Myles, B.S., Byrd, S.E., Ganz, J.B., et al. (2005). Autism spectrum
disorders: Interventions and treatments for children and youth. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.