FAQs About Our Evaluations of Interventions

Woman and man with autism asking questionsThis page is designed to answer some of the questions we get asked about the Evaluations of Autism Interventions, Treatments and Therapies section of our website.

If you cannot find what you are looking for please email info@informationautism.org and we will try to help you!

For answers to some of the other commonly asked questions about interventions please see Introduction to Interventions for Autism

What is the purpose of the 'Evaluations' section?

To provide a quick and simple description and evaluation of some of the most commonly used interventions to help autistic people.

Please note that our descriptions and evaluations do not constitute a recommendation about whether or not an intervention is suitable for a particular autistic individual. Each autistic individual is different and what works for one individual may not work for another.

Why should anyone trust your evaluations?

We follow a set of rigorous and methodical processes to ensure that our evaluations are fair and impartial.

These processes were developed by the Information Standard, a health and care certification programme supported by NHS England.

The Information Standard no longer exists but we still follow the processes it established.

Who carries out your evaluations?

The bulk of the work on evaluations (such as the initial research and writing up of the website entry) is carried out by the Information Manager.  He does not decide the ranking or the opinion.

3 diffferent topic experts review what the Inforrmation Manager has written for each evaluation, along with the research evidence behind it. They also decide the ranking and the opinion for that evaluation.

How do you decide which interventions to evaluate?

We try to include and evaluate interventions if

  • they are in common usage e.g. the gluten-free, casein-free diet
  • there is a substantial body of research evidence around them e.g. early intensive behavioural intervention
  • numerous people have made claims of cure or recovery for them e.g. chelation
  • we believe them to be potentially hazardous e.g. holding therapy

How do you decide which studies to include in your evaluation of an intervention?

We try to include all studies published in English, peer-reviewed, journals which examine the effectiveness or otherwise of that intervention. That includes clinical trials (such as randomised control trials) as well as observational studies (such as case studies).

However, when it comes to rating an evaluation we place considerably more weight on clinical trials than we do on observational studies since the former are more scientifically valid and reliable.

More information about Types of Autism Research Study

How does your rating system work?

1 tick. Limited positive evidence Our rating is based on a simple ticks and crosses system. The more ticks, the more evidence to support an intervention. The more crosses, the more evidence to show that an intervention is not supported.

Insufficient or mixed evidence Where this is no evidence, very little evidence or the evidence is mixed or contradictory, we show this with a variety of other symbols.

Harmful effects Where there is objective evidence of potential harm, we show this with a hazard symbol.

More information Our Ratings System

Why do some interventions have a rating of N/A?

Not Applicable This symbol (not appropriate) means that we do not consider it appropriate to provide a ranking for this entry.

Some entries are general approaches, which encompass many different interventions. For example, applied behaviour analysis includes interventions such as discrete trial training, functional communication training, video modelling etc.. This makes it very difficult to provide a rating for the approach as a whole.

Why do some interventions have a rating of U?

Ungraded This symbol (ungraded) means that we have yet to grade this intervention. We have provided some information about it but we have not yet had the opportunity to rate the scientific evidence for its effectiveness.

Why does each intervention have a type?

We have broken down the interventions into different types or categories so that you can see which interventions are broadly similar to which others.

So, for example, we have grouped a variety of interventions such as discrete trial training, the DIR method and Social Stories under 'Behavioural and Developmental Interventions' since they involve training, showing or encouraging the individual to modify his or her behaviour.

More information on Types of Interventions, Treatments and Therapies

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16 Jun 2022