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Unsubstantiated Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Yannick A. SchenkEmail author
  • Ryan J. Martin
  • Whitney L. Kleinert
  • Shawn P. Quigley
  • Serra R. Langone
Chapter

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by deficits in communication and social interactions, as well as repetitive patterns of behavior (American Psychiatric Association [APA], Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC, 2013). Much effort has been invested into identifying the etiology of, and effective treatments for, ASD. Although many treatments are available to individuals with ASD, only some are based on sufficient scientific research to be considered evidence-based (Offit, Autism’s false prophets: Bad science, risky medicine, and the search for a cure, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 2008). Thus, there exists a need to make a distinction between evidence-based and unsubstantiated treatments. Unsubstantiated interventions for ASD are characterized by weak methodological rigor, and poorly defined procedures and measures, and generally have insufficient or no supporting evidence for their effectiveness. Many factors help explain why caregivers sometimes pursue unsubstantiated interventions, and it is our responsibility as health service providers and educators to advocate for caregivers and inform them of the benefits of selecting evidence-based interventions for their children. This chapter reviews the defining features of evidence-based practice and contrasts characteristics of unsubstantiated treatments. Additionally, we review factors that may lead caregivers to choose treatments that lack evidence, provide resources to help caregivers and practitioners recognize and select efficacious interventions, and describe three case reviews of common unsubstantiated treatments to illustrate key limitations that impact the believability of their efficacy.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Unsubstantiated interventions Evidence-based interventions 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yannick A. Schenk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ryan J. Martin
    • 1
  • Whitney L. Kleinert
    • 1
  • Shawn P. Quigley
    • 2
  • Serra R. Langone
    • 1
  1. 1.May InstituteRandolphUSA
  2. 2.MelmarkBerwynUSA

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