Many of the treatments identified as unestablished practices (also known as practices with limited supporting information) have been studied, but the quality, quantity or consistency of the research findings have been poor or did not apply to persons with autism spectrum disorder. Because of this lack of compelling research evidence, researchers are not able to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of these interventions. In fact, there is not enough research on these treatments to rule out the possibility that they are ineffective or even harmful.
These interventions involve the use of traditional teaching methods to improve academic performance. Examples include personal instruction, paired associate, picture-to-text matching, The Expression Connection, answering pre-reading questions, completing cloze sentences, resolving anaphora, sentence combining, special education, speech output and orthographic feedback, and handwriting training.
This intervention involves the presentation of modulated sounds through headphones in an attempt to retrain an individual's auditory system with the goal of improving distortions in hearing or sensitivities to sound.
This intervention involves having a facilitator support the hand or arm of an person with limited communication skills to help the that person express words, sentences or complete thoughts by using a typing device or a keyboard with words or pictures.
These interventions involve eliminating an individual's intake of the naturally occurring proteins gluten and casein. Early studies suggested that the gluten- and casein-free diet may produce favorable outcomes, but did not have strong scientific designs. Better controlled research published since 2006 suggests there may be no educational or behavioral benefits from these diets. Further, potential medically harmful effects have begun to be reported in the literature.
These treatments involve establishing an environment that stimulates or challenges the individual to effectively use all of his or her senses as a means of addressing over-stimulation or under-stimulation from the environment.
Source: National Standards Project, National Standards Project, National Autism Center, 2009
Updated: February 11, 2013