, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 354-366
Date: 01 Aug 2006

Designing Research Studies on Psychosocial Interventions in Autism

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Abstract

To address methodological challenges in research on psychosocial interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a model was developed for systematically validating and disseminating interventions in a sequence of steps. First, initial efficacy studies are conducted to establish interventions as promising. Next, promising interventions are assembled into a manual, which undergoes pilot-testing. Then, randomized clinical trials test efficacy under controlled conditions. Finally, effectiveness studies evaluate outcomes in community settings. Guidelines for research designs at each step are presented. Based on the model, current priorities in ASD research include (a) preparation for efficacy and effectiveness trials by developing manuals for interventions that have shown promise and (b) initial efficacy studies on interventions for core features of ASD such as social reciprocity.