Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 11, pp 4585–4594 | Cite as

Social Validity and Teachers’ Use of Evidence-Based Practices for Autism

  • Jordan McNeillEmail author
Original Paper


The autism intervention literature focuses heavily on the concept of evidence-based practice, with less consideration of the acceptability, feasibility, and contextual alignment of interventions in practice. A survey of 130 special educators was conducted to quantify this “social validity” of evidence-based practices and analyze its relationship with knowledge level and frequency of use. Results indicate that knowledge, use, and social validity are tightly-connected and rank the highest for modeling, reinforcement, prompting, and visual supports. Regression analysis suggests that greater knowledge, higher perceived social validity, and a caseload including more students with autism predicts more frequent use of a practice. The results support the vital role that social validity plays in teachers’ implementation, with implications for both research and practice.


Autism Social validity Evidence-based practice Special education Intervention 



The author thanks Dr. Daniel Riffe, Professor of Media and Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, for assistance with methodological design, implementation, and participant incentives. Additional acknowledgments provided to Dr. Cathy Zimmer and the consultants at the Odum Institute at UNC Chapel Hill for their statistical consulting services.

Author Contributions

JM was the lead researcher and designed the study, collected data, conducted statistical analyses, and drafted and revised the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee. IRB #18-2576 was reviewed by the Office of Human Research Ethics and was determined to be exempt from further review according to regulatory category 2, survey, interview, or public observation, under 45 CFR 46.101(b).

Supplementary material

10803_2019_4190_MOESM1_ESM.txt (79 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TXT 78 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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