Checklist for Autism Treatment Selection

Green Flag:

Every item below that you check off is an indication that you have chosen a treatment worthy of consideration (though it does not guarantee it will be effective). If you decide to pursue a treatment for which you cannot check off certain items below, seek further information on why this is the case.

The treatment does not claim to cure autism.
The treatment does not claim to be a quick solution.
The treatment is individualized for each child.
The treatment addresses all three of the developmental areas (i.e., communication, social skills, and repetitive/unusual behaviours) affected by autism.
Therapy is said to help the symptoms and not the causes of autism.
The service is regulated and/or endorsed by an overseeing professional body.
The people supervising and delivering the therapy can present evidence of their qualifications, training related to the treatment, and on-going training and/or supervision.
Published research on the effectiveness of the treatment is readily available in peer-reviewed journals.
Ongoing research for the treatment is being conducted.
Therapists allow parents to observe their child receiving the treatment.
Parents are involved in the treatment.
Parents are involved in the planning and goal setting.
Goals set are based on observable behaviours.
Baseline data are taken before treatment starts.
Data are recorded and used to make clinical decisions.
Regular assessments of progress/treatment effectiveness are made.
Criteria exist for when to stop treatment._
The providers of the treatment can demonstrate that positive behaviour changes are the direct result of their treatment.
The treatment does not cause harm, injury, death, or have other negative side effects.
Positive behaviour changes during treatment occur outside of the treatment setting or when the treatment is stopped.
For bio-medical treatments, a family doctor has been consulted, recommends or prescribes the treatment, and provides monitoring on an ongoing basis.
Orange Flag: If any of the items below can be checked off, consider it a warning sign that a treatment may not be legitimate or effective. If you decide to pursue a treatment that has any orange flags, do so with caution while seeking further information regarding any checked items.

The treatment claims to cure autism.
The treatment promises rapid effects.
High success rates are claimed.
The treatment requires little training or expertise.
Therapy is said to be effective for many different disorders.
The treatment is promoted as “cutting edge”.
Claims about the treatment seem too good to be true.
Medical insurers or governments do not fund the treatment.
The treatment only addresses one or two of the developmental areas (i.e.,
communication, social skills, and repetitive/unusual behaviours) affected by autism, rather than all three.
Professionals in the area of autism have never heard of the therapy.
The promoters state that proven treatments are unnecessary or harmful.
The promoters or researchers have a direct stake in the outcomes of the research study.
i Research is only found within in-house publications.
The treatment only has a few preliminary studies supporting it.
The treatment described in research literature seems different from what is provided.
Evidence about the treatment’s effectiveness differs greatly.
The treatment is based on theories with no scientific support or on the theory of one “expert” only.
The treatment only works when combined with a treatment known to be effective.
Data are not collected on behaviours targeted by the treatment.
Assessments are not made to determine where to start a treatment, evaluate its effects, or decide when to stop.
Red Flag: If even one of the items below can be checked off, consider it a warning sign that a treatment is not legitimate. It is recommended that you do not pursue any treatment that has a red flag.

The treatment promises immediate effects.
The treatment claims to work with all children with autism.
The treatment is identical for all who purchase it.
The treatment claims to address the causes of autism.
The treatment claims to impact something other than the behaviour deficits/excesses associated with autism.
There is evidence that the treatment may cause harm, injury, or death.
The treatment uses aversive verbal or physical techniques as the primary method of instruction.
The treatment could potentially interfere with a proven effective treatment.
The risks of the treatment outweigh the benefits.
The treatment is required for life.
Promoters or providers of the treatment are working outside of their area of expertise.
Promoters of the treatment use celebrities or catchy slogans to sell their product.
Testimonies are the only form of support for the treatment.
Promoters claim that others don’t want you to know about their treatment.
The treatment is only available through advertisements/internet sites or through a small group of “specialists” or “treatment sites”.
The treatment is based on improvable theories.
Promoters of the treatment do not allow anyone to evaluate their therapy.
No research can be found on the treatment.
Negative findings from research studies are ignored or dismissed by the promoter and positive results are highlighted.
Supervision or training in delivery of the treatment is not required.
Therapists will not allow parents to observe or participate in the treatment.
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