Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 1311–1319 | Cite as

Development of the Evaluative Method for Evaluating and Determining Evidence-Based Practices in Autism

  • Brian ReichowEmail author
  • Fred R. Volkmar
  • Domenic V. Cicchetti
Original Paper


Although research in autism has grown more sophisticated, the gap between research knowledge and applicability of research in real world settings has grown. There have been a number of different reviews of evidence-based practices of treatments for young children with autism. Reviews which have critically evaluated the empirical evidence have not found any treatments that can be considered evidence-based. Reasons for this shortcoming are explored, and a new method for the evaluation of empirical evidence is provided. Future uses of this evaluative method are provided as well as a discussion of how this tool might aid in narrowing the research to practice gap.


Autism Evidence-based practice 



The authors would like to thank Erin Barton and Peter Doehring for their assistance in the development of the reliability of the rubrics. This manuscript was prepared while Brian Reichow was completing an internship at the Yale Child Study Center.


  1. Baker, B. L., & Feinfield, K. A. (2003). Early intervention. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 16, 503–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bristol, M. M., Cohen, D. J., Costello, E. J., Denckla, M., Eckberg, T. J., Kallen, R., et al. (1996). State of the science in autism: Report to the National Institutes of Health. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 26, 121–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chorpita, B. F. (2003). The frontier of evidence-based practice. In A. E. Kazdin & J. R. Weisz (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (pp. 42–59). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  4. Cicchetti, D. V. (2001). The precision of reliability and validity estimates re-visited: Distinguishing between clinical and statistical significance of sample size requirements. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 23, 695–700.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cutspec, P. A. (2004). Origins of evidence-based approaches to best practice: Evidence-based medicine. Centerscope, 2(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  6. Doehring, P., Reichow, B., & Volkmar, F. R. (2007, March). Is it evidenced-based? How to evaluate claims of effectiveness for autism. Paper presented at the International Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  7. Filipek, P. A., Accardo, P. J., Ashwal, S., Baranek, G. T., Cook, E. H., Jr., Dawson, G., et al. (2000). Practice parameter: Screening and diagnosis of autism. Neurology, 55, 468–479.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Francis, K. (2005). Autism interventions: A critical update. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 47, 493–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goodheart, C. D., Kazdin, A. E., & Sternberg, R. J. (2006). Evidence-based psychotherapy: Where practice and research meet. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  10. Greenhalgh, T. (2001). How to read a paper: The basics of evidence based medicine (2nd ed.). London: BMJ Books.Google Scholar
  11. Gresham, F. M., Beebe-Frankenberger, M. E., MacMillan, D. L. (1999). A selective review of treatments for children with autism: Description and methodological considerations. The School Psychology Review, 28, 559–575.Google Scholar
  12. Grice, J. W., Jackson, B. J., & McDaniel, B. L. (2006). Bridging the idiographic-nomothetic divide: A follow-up study. Journal of Personality, 74, 1191–1218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hamilton, J. (2005). Clinicians’ guide to evidence-based practice. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 494–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Halle, J., McGee, G., Odom, S., & Wolery, M. (2005). The use of single-subject research to identify evidence-based practice in special education. Exceptional Children, 71, 165–179.Google Scholar
  15. Kasari, C. (2002). Assessing change in early intervention programs for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 447–461.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kazdin, A. E. (2001). Bridging the enormous gaps of theory with therapy research and practice. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 59–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kazdin, A. E., & Weisz, J. R. (Eds.). (2003). Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  18. Klin, A., Lang, J., Cicchetti, D. V., & Volkmar, F. (2000). Inter-rater reliability of clinical diagnosis and DSM-IV criteria for autistic disorder: Results of the DSM-IV autism field trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 163–167.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kratochwill, T. R., & Stoiber, K. C. (2002). Evidence-based interventions in school psychology: Conceptual foundations of the Procedural and Coding Manual of Division 16 and the Society for the Study of School Psychology Task Force. School Psychology Quarterly, 17, 341–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Landis, J. R., & Koch, G. G. (1977). The measure of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics, 3, 159–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Levin, J. R. (2002). How to evaluate the evidence of evidence-based interventions. School Psychology Quarterly, 17, 483–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lonigan, C. J., Elbert, J. C., & Johnson, S. B. (1998). Empirically supported psychosocial interventions for children: An overview. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 138–145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lord, C., Bristol-Power, M., Cafiero, J. M., Filipek, P. A., Gallagher, J. J., Harris, S. L., et al. (2001). Educating children with autism. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  24. Lucas, S. M., & Cutspec, P. A. (2005). The role and process of literature searching in the preparation of research synthesis. Centerscope, 4(3), 1–26.Google Scholar
  25. McHugo, G. J., & Drake, R. E. (2003). Finding and evaluating the evidence: A critical step in evidence-based medicine. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 26, 821–831.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Norcross, J. C., Beutler, L. E., & Levant, R. F. (2006). Evidence-based practices in mental health: Debate and dialogue on the fundamental questions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Odom, S. L., Brantlinger, E., Gersten, R., Horner, R. H., Thompson, B., & Harris, K. R. (2005). Research in special education: Scientific methods and evidence-based practices. Exceptional Children, 71, 137–148.Google Scholar
  28. Odom, S. L., Brown, W. H., Frey, T., Karasu, N., Smith-Canter, L. L., & Strain, P. S. (2003). Evidence-based practices for young children with autism: Contributions for single-subject design research. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disorders, 18, 166–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Petticrew, M., & Roberts, H. (2006). Systematic reviews in the social sciences: A practical guide. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. Reichow, B., Barton, E. E., Volkmar, F. R., & Cicchetti, D. V. (2007, May). The status of research on interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorders. Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, Seattle, WA.Google Scholar
  31. Rogers, S. J. (1998). Empirically supported comprehensive treatments for young children with autism. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 168–179.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shavelson, R. J., & Towne, L. (Eds.). (2002). Scientific research in education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  33. Urbaniak, G. C., & Plous, S. (2006). Research randomizer (retrieved July 15, 2005 from
  34. Wampold, B. E., Lichtenberg, J. W., & Waehler, C. A. (2002). Principles of empirically supported interventions in counseling psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 30, 197–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Weisz, J. R., & Hawley, K. M. (1998). Finding, evaluating, refining, and applying empirically supported treatments for children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 202–216.Google Scholar
  36. Weisz, J. R., Hawley, K. M., Pilkonis, P. A., Woody, S. R., & Follette, W. C. (2000). Stressing the (other) three rs in the search for empirically supported treatments: Review procedures, research quality, relevance to practice, and the public interest. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 7, 243–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Reichow
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fred R. Volkmar
    • 2
  • Domenic V. Cicchetti
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Special Education, Peabody CollegeVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Child Study CenterYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations