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Models and Classroom Instruction
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Addressing the Challenges of Autism: Research Findings and Promising Practices

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Models and Classroom Instruction: Intervention Models: Summary Table of Intervention Methods

Summary Table of Intervention Methods

Following is a list of research studies that provide evidence on the efficacy of intervention methods for children with autism. "Effective" intervention strategies have research studies that evaluate transferability to various settings, whereas "promising" intervention strategies have research studies that evaluate face validity in a single setting.

Intensive Behavioral Therapy (Effective)

Research on Effectiveness


Lovaas, O. I. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55(1), 3-9.

Found that behavioral therapy produced significant gains in 19 pre-school-aged children with autism, as compared with the 19 children in the control group.

McEachin, J. J., Smith, T., & Lovaas, O. I. (1993). Long-term outcome for children with autism who received early intensive behavioral treatment. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 97(4), 359-372.

A follow-up study to Lovaas (1987), found that behavioral treatment produced long-lasting and significant gains for the 19 young children with autism, as compared with the 19 children in the control group.

Sallows, G. O., & Graupner, T. D. (1999, November). Replicating Lovaas’ treatment and findings: Preliminary results. Paper presented at Autism99 [On-line]. Available: http://trainland.tripod.com/gleno.htm

Found that behavioral treatment could be implemented outside of a university setting. Also found an increase in IQ and improvements in adaptive skills and language skills in 24 children who received behavioral treatment, as compared with 43 children in a control group.

Eikeseth, S. (1999, November). Intensive school-based behavioral treatment for four to seven year old children with autism: "A one year follow-up.’’ Paper presented at Autism99 [On-line]. Available: http://trainland.tripod.com/svein.htm

Found that 12 children between 4 and 7 years old given behavioral treatment scored higher on global IQ, language, and communication skills, as compared with 10 students in a control group.

See also

Lovaas, O. I. & Smith, T. (1989). A comprehensive behavioral theory of autistic children: Paradigm for research and treatment. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 17-29.

TEACCH (Promising)

Research on Effectiveness:


Ozonoff, S., & Cathcart, K. (1998). Effectiveness of a home program intervention for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28(1), 25-32.

Found that after four months of clinical and home TEACCH programming, the 11 children in the treatment group made greater improvements in fine motor, gross motor, imitation, and nonverbal conceptual skills than 11 children with autism in the no-treatment control group.

Panerai, S., Ferrante, L., Caputo, V., Impellizzeri, & C. (1998). Use of structured teaching for treatment of children with autism and severe and profound mental retardation. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 33(4), 367-74.

Found that the TEACCH structured intervention program improved working skills and functional communication abilities in 18 children and adolescents with autism.

See also:

Mesibov, G. B. (1997). Formal and informal measures on the effectiveness of the TEACCH programme. Autism, 1(1), 25-35.

PECS (Promising)

Research on Effectiveness


Schwartz, I. S., Garfinkle, A. N., & Bauer, J. (1998). The picture exchange communication system: Communicative outcomes for young children with disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 18(3), 144-159.

In a study of 31 preschool children with severe communication delays, found that these children developed the ability to communicate with adults and peers by using PECS for 14 months. In a second study of 18 preschool children with autism, found that these children learned to generalize language skills to untrained settings after using PECS for a year.

Bondy, A., & Peterson, S. (1990, May) The point is not to point: Picture exchange communication system with young students with autism. Paper presented at the Association for Behavior Analysis Convention, Nashville, TN.

Found that for the 66 children who used PECS for more than 1 year, 76% have come to use speech either as their sole communication system or augmented by a picture-based system

See also:

Bondy, A. S., & Frost, L. A. (1994). The Delaware autistic program. In S. L. Harris & J. S. Handleman (Eds.), Preschool Education Programs for Children with Autism (pp. 37-54). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Bondy, A. S., & Frost, L. A. (1994). The picture exchange communication system. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 9(3), 1-19.

Social Stories (Promising)

Research on Effectiveness


Rowe, C. (1999). The Stanley Segal Award: Do social stories benefit children with autism in mainstream primary schools? British Journal of Special Education, 26(1), 12-14.

Describes a research project that evaluated the use of social stories with an elementary school boy with autism, who was having difficulty during lunchtime.

Hagiwara, T., & Myles, B. S. (1999). A multimedia social story intervention: Teaching skills to children with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 14 (2), 82-95.

In a study of three boys with autism, found that social story intervention was effective in reducing behavioral and social problems in three boys when using a multimedia approach.

See Also:

Norris, C., & Dattilo, J. Evaluating effects of a social story intervention on a young girl with autism. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 14(3), 180-186.

Swaggart, B., Gagnon, E., Bock, S. J., & Earles, T. L. (1995). Using social stories to teach social and behavioral skills to children with autism. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 10(1), 1-16.

Gray, C., & Garand, J. D. (1993). Social stories: Improving responses of students with autism with accurate social information. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 8(1), 1-10.

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