Choosing Autism Interventions: A Research-Based Guide

Reviews of the book

Choosing Autism Interventions: A Research-Based GuideThis page contains reviews of the book "Choosing Autism Interventions: A Research-Based Guide" which have appeared in journals and magazines.

For other comments about the book please see What People Say About This Book



Asperger United, April 2016


This book needs to become the go-to guide for professionals when thinking about interventions!

The opening section, Key information, is highly informative and wonderfully written, taking the time to properly break down the different areas that people need to know about before moving on to the main point of the guide, the interventions.

The sheer breadth of the interventions covered in this publication is astounding; with each one fully looked-at, assessing the evidence available as well as the risks, costs and time requirements. In essence this guide offers a truly unbiased overview of what is currently available, supplying an impressive amount of references and citations to allow the reader to engage in further research should they wish. The language used in the overviews of the individual interventions is suitable for both professionals and non, with explanations provided for the more complex terminology but without ever crossing the line into “dumbing down” territory. Some of the intervention chapters do carry some heavy medical terms but a no point does it feel as if the reader has begun to read a textbook or needs a science qualification to proceed!

On a personal note the layout of the guide is one I love: easy-to-read type and size, clearly laid out and a wonderfully refreshing approach to colour schemes! Being able to pick it up and go straight to the introduction or appendices based on the colour of the pages is a simple thing that adds a level of delight when using this guide.

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Aukids Magazine, October 2015

Debby Elley, AuKids co-editor

"A book like this is long overdue in the autism community. We welcome it with open arms and a standing ovation. It’s a smart, well organised guide to most of the autism interventions available and a brilliant antidote to those making outrageous claims that aren’t based on scientific evidence. Most of us don’t have a background in scientific research and not only that but we don’t have enough scientific knowledge to accurately assess the quality of research evidence, either. When something is ‘proven to be effective’, is it good research that’s proven it? Erm, pass...

"This handy reference does the work for you. It’s a joint initiative between Research Autism, Autism West Midlands and Dimensions – all organisations for which we have the greatest respect. The authors are known to us, in fact you may remember Liz Hurley (not that one!) from the article we wrote on the science behind autism in Issue 21. The person mysteriously named ‘The Goth’ is James Mason, editor of Asperger’s United, a publication written by people on the spectrum, for people on the spectrum and published quarterly by the NAS.

"Research evidence for each intervention has been weighed up and the overall therapy is summarised for benefits and risks. If you want the bottom line without a lot of blurb, this is it. In conjunction with that, it has some notes on why evidence may be difficult to assess, for instance in the case of those where individual practice varies greatly. This also bluntly states where insufficient evidence is available.

"Many people, especially advocates of some therapies who have witnessed great improvement in individuals, may find it hard to accept that scientific evidence isn’t sound enough to wholly embrace it. This doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t significant benefits to using some of these interventions, but it’s hard in some cases to quantify the beneficial results over time of an intervention, in fact scientifically speaking it may be nearly impossible. What this will say is whether the intervention carries any risk, so whether it’s proven or not scientifically, this is helpful.

"The green section at the back of the book, including key factors to consider when choosing an intervention, is also invaluable. Not only does this book do the hard work for you, it skills you up so that you won’t fall for any outlandish claims in future. Of these, the list of ‘red flags’ to watch out for were my favourite. Signs that a therapy programme may not be what it claims include celebrity endorsement and use of words like ‘miracle’. Persuasive perhaps, but scientific – hardly.

"Bravo, editors."

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Bulletin, December 2015 (The official journal of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists)

Jan Raine, Clinical Lead SLT (ASD), City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust

If you are a parent or professional looking for unbiased information about treatments and therapies for autism then this is most definitely the book for you.  It is clearly laid out in easily-accessible, colour-coded sections. One section provides information on what autism is and the common issues that people with autism face.  Another section provides an evidence-based overview of the more commonly-used interventions for children and adults who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

The authors describe each intervention briefly and include objective and unbiased evaluations based on scientific research, along with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence best practice guidance.  The book allows parents or professional to easily evaluate specific interventions using the tools provided and make informed choices about what they feel would be best.

I have used the book to evidence interventions already used in our department and the references included in each section have provided me with additional support and reading.

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Debate, 157, December 2015 (British Psychological Society)

Ursula Cornish, Specialist Consultant Educational Psychologist

"The authors of Choosing Autism Interventions present us with a well researched  guide about the present state of evidence and general issues in the vast area of  qualitatively different interventions  in various practices and organisations. It provides a welcome and most useful resource for Educational Psychologists to inform their own practice when assessing and working with children and adults on the autism spectrum. It will also assist parents and carers to make better informed choices.

"The Guide sets out key principles for autism interventions and covers a wide range of the most common  interventions. It clearly outlines types of research studies and  mentions  the benefits and shortcomings  of research methods. They examine published scientific findings, clinical guidance and best practice statements. The authors describe various evaluation systems briefly and succinctly. Each treatment is well defined in a few sentences, stating its aim, for whom it is designed, and the evidence if any, finally indicating possible risks of the treatment to its user. This information is available at a glance, presented in a clear  box to offer quick information.

"It covers over twenty interventions from standard healthcare, behavioural interventions, medication, special diets, sensori -motor interventions, social care services  to scientifically unfeasible and potentially harmful interventions to name but a few.

"The language and format are  easy to read and a pleasure to delve into. Excellent  references and Indexes make it easy to navigate to the topic you wish. The reader is well led page by page from one section to another, covering related and relevant issues.

"A Glossary defines unfamiliar terms, giving the corresponding page to read all  about them. It also provides a reading list and useful information about organisations and websites.

"It is easier to read than any cook book but you will find all the ingredients within this comprehensive guide.

"I highly recommend this book for all Educational Services and colleagues specialising in autism."

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Good Autism Practice, 16(2), 2015.

Dr Glenys Jones, Autism Centre for Education and Research, University of Birmingham

"This book aims to provide an accessible, evidence- based overview of the most commonly used interventions for children and adults on the autism spectrum. This is a tall order as inevitably it can only present a fraction of the detail which exists on each type of intervention listed. But the challenge is one worth taking as it is very useful to have such information in just one book. Bernard Fleming is the information manager at Research Autism which hosts a website providing details of the main interventions and commissions research into autism. Dr Elisabeth Hurley is the research officer at Autism West Midlands, an autism charity and service provider in the West Midlands. The Goth was diagnosed 13 years ago with high functioning autism and has been working as a trainer and an advocate since then.

"The book is written in three sections, the first of which gives information on autism and the evaluation of interventions in four chapters. The second section is the largest section having 22 chapters. The interventions are grouped by type (e.g. motor-sensory interventions; dietary supplements; parent training and support programmes). Categorising interventions can be quite difficult as there is often overlap between them. The third section focuses on how to make decisions on which interventions might be pursued, the final chapter being a summary of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance. This chapter sets out the key principles that the authors believe any intervention should follow, lists the red flags or signs that an intervention may not be what it seems and presents a set of key questions to ask of research papers. There are eight appendices at the end of the book which give personal perspectives, organisations and websites and further reading.

"There is an important disclaimer on page 10 which states that the book is designed to support and not to replace the relationship that exists between the individual and the health care or service provider and that the information has been written by non-medically qualified individuals, unless specifically stated otherwise and so such information should be treated with care.

"On pages 14 and 15 there is a set of key principles which it is argued any intervention should follow. This is very useful but an additional principle could have been added and that is to gain the views of the autistic child or adult before, during and after the implementation of an intervention. As Damian Milton (2014) argues, very often autistic individuals themselves are not consulted on which interventions are chosen. Inevitably, in a book with such a large brief, there will be omissions, but this does not detract from its overall purpose. In Chapter 1, it would have been useful to have included a section on the gender ratio and the scarcity of literature and research on the presentation of autism in females and in Chapter 2, which deals with the issues faced by people on the autism spectrum, the point could be made that not all people with autism require services and the chapter could have included a section on the strengths that autism can and does convey. The brief section on challenging behaviour on page 40, could perhaps have been rephrased to ‘behaviour that challenges others’, because, as the authors point out, some such behaviours are in fact enjoyable and calming to the individual. Chapter 4 on the evaluation of interventions is very useful as it shows why research is difficult and explains why robust research evidence is rare.

"For the major section of the book on the different interventions, summary information is provided on each intervention under the same five headings which helps comparison across interventions. The headings are Definition, Aims, Who, Evidence and Risks. Parents, carers and professionals seeking information on which interventions have a strong research evidence base for their effectiveness will be disappointed. Even with very commonly used interventions such as ABA, Intensive interaction, PECS and TEACCH and parent training programmes such as EarlyBird, the studies done on these have not been sufficiently rigorous to give conclusive results. As NICE found when making a thorough review of interventions for children and adults with autism, studies are often short-term, with small samples, use inadequate assessment tools and methods, lack a comparison group and are carried out by those who developed the intervention. One hopes this book and the NICE guidance will lead to better designed studies and assessment methods in the future.

"This is a very useful resource for anyone engaged in the field of autism whether a parent, carer, professional or a student. Each chapter has a list of up to date references for further reading. The last section of the book is probably the most valuable in that it sets out very clearly the questions that need to be asked before investing in and following an intervention. The key message is to proceed with care and with knowledge, and to ensure that the family, the service providers and most importantly, the individual him or herself believes the intervention might be one they would like to follow."

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SEN Magazine, 79, November/December 2015

Mary Mountstephen, KidsCanSucceed

"This book has been written to provide an accessible, evidence –based overview of the most commonly used interventions for children and adults on the autistic spectrum. It has been produced by ‘Research Autism’, which is a charity driven directly by the needs of the autism community. It aims to provide guidance to those living with autism and to make informed choices about interventions.  The authors stress the importance of high quality research and impartial information to change lives for the better.

"The book is very practical and is divided into 4 sections and there are 3 very positive recommendations from readers in the preface. Section 1 covers basic information about autism, followed by sections that cover descriptions of a range of interventions, advice on selecting appropriate interventions and a comprehensive range of appendices.

"The book is attractively set out and provides information that is written in an accessible and supportive format. The terminology is simply explained and this is a book that would be useful for families or for mainstream schools working with autistic children.

"The book is very well constructed and provides huge amount of information. It is well researched and highly recommended for practitioners and parents who are working with those on the autistic spectrum."

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YourAutism Magazine, August 2016

Lizzie Mason, National Autistic Society

"This is a fantastic book which provides a comprehensive summary of the most frequently used interventions for autistic children and adults. The chapters are colour coded and the interventions are categorised into broad types which makes it easy to use. Each section provides an outline of the approach and a discussion of the current evidence with a focus on best practice as set out by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). It is straightforward and unbiased. The reader is encouraged to evaluate the information provided for themselves and is given tools to help them do this. I found the book very interesting and I think it is a really useful tool for people who have a diagnosis of autism, parents and carers as well as professionals as it gives people the information to be able to make informed decisions about support."

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