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Although screening and early recognition of autism spectrum disorders are important, the role of the primary healthcare provider does not end with diagnosis.

Management responsibilities after the diagnosis of an autism includes:

  • Providing high quality medical care
  • Guiding families to effective interventions
  • Sharing accurate information sources.

Primary healthcare providers, such as paediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, maternal health nurses, or other allied health professionals may take part in any or all of these duties in addition to making referrals to other specialists.

However, there are currently over 400 marketed interventions for autism, the vast majority of which lack scientific support. Therefore, healthcare providers must know how to distinguish between fact and fad when providing treatment advice to families. Unfortunately, the number and range of fad treatments has grown in recent years as more children have been diagnosed with autism.

Zane, Davis, and Rosswurm (2008) describe fad treatments as “interventions that use scientific jargon, sound logical, are supported by celebrities, and are discussed in the media and on the Internet, where many parents can be exposed to them. Fad treatments, by definition, have no substantial body of research showing that they are effective in treating any aspect of autism. Thus, there is little confidence that they are effective in treating any aspect of autism.”

Zane, Davis, and Rosswurm (2008)
Zane, Davis, and Rosswurm (2008)

Fad treatments cost families’ money, but also steer families away from investing valuable time and resources into science-based, effective treatments.

Lizard Centre is Australia’s leading provider of early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI), an early intervention for children with autism based on the science of applied behaviour analysis (ABA).

The Gold Standard

Treatments based on ABA are internally recognised as the gold standard treatment for autism. Over 75 years of published peer-reviewed research supports the efficacy of ABA for treating skill deficits and behavioural challenges associated with autism. Given the enormous cost of caring for individuals with an ASD over their lifetime, efforts should continue to be focused on helping families access EIBI to offset costs later in life.

Current research supports the notion that EIBI not only improves the quality of the lives of the children receiving services and their families, but also saves taxpayers billions of dollars. The cost savings are not only seen in educational costs, but also in the costs associated with caring for children with autism once they become adults.

Lizard Centre would like to offer you an informational session to discuss evidence-based interventions for autism, followed by time for questions. This session will be conducted by our Clinical Director, Dr Erin Leif, PhD, BCBA-D.

To find out more and arrange an informational session, please contact us on 1300 752 617.

Supporting documentation

We encourage you to review the following key supporting documentations below. They will help you advocate for early intensive behavioural intervention and ABA therapy.

ABA Guidelines for ASD for healthcare funders

This paper describes the Board Certified Behaviour Analyst Credential, how treatment goals are formulated and monitored, the components of an ABA therapy program, and the recommended intensity and duration of intervention

The Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-based, evidence-informed practice for supports provided to preschool children, their families, and carers (2016)

This paper was commissioned by the Australian Government to inform funding for autism treatment under NDIS. Be sure to highlight and be prepared to discuss:

  1. Page 11, which describes recommended intensity of intervention
  2. Page 12, which describes how often intervention plans should be reviewed and the importance of individualised planning, which are included in a Lizard program
  3. Page 23, which describes how only evidence-based interventions should be used. ABA and EIBI are the only autism interventions with established scientific support
  4. Page 26 – all of the highlighted intervention components are firmly rooted in ABA and are included as part of an ABA intervention package which is individualised for the child
  5. Page 33 – See table referencing intensity of intervention

The Early Intervention Guidelines for Good Practice (2012)

This paper was commissioned by the Australian Government to inform funding for autism treatment under HCWA and FaCHSIA. Be sure to highlight and be prepared to discuss:

  1. Page 4, which describes the key elements of effective intervention, all of which are included in a Lizard program. Key elements are further described on pages 6-9
  2. Page 5, which describes recommended intensity of intervention
  3. Page 12, which indicates that ABA and EIBI are the only autism interventions with a rating of ER: Eligible for funding based on established research evidence

Evidence for Effectiveness of ABA as a Treatment for Autism

This paper includes a summary of medical and scientific evidence for effectiveness of applied behaviour analysis (ABA) as a treatment for autism.

The National Autism Center’s National Standards Report (2009)

This paper serves three primary purposes:

  1. ‘To identify the level of research support currently available for educationals and behavioral interventions used with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).’
  2. ‘To help parents, caregivers, educators and service providers understand how to integrate critical information in making treatment decisions.’
  3. ‘To identify limitations of the existing treatment research involving individuals with ASD’.

Is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) an Effective Treatment for Autism? A Cumulative History of Impartial Independent Reviews (Larsson, 2013)

Builds on the 2008 paper. States that impartial independent review panels consistently agree that ABA and EIBI treatments for autism are effective, and that the extensive body of research meets high standards of scientific evidence. These reviews also report that ABA and EIBI significantly improves the net health outcome in Autism in substantial and far-ranging ways.