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This assessment examines the evidence base regarding effectiveness of interventions aimed at supporting children and young people aged 0-25 with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in education settings.

After a number of stages of assessment of the quality and relevance of the evidence obtained from a search of academic journal databases, 35 studies were identified as suitable for inclusion in the Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA).

The review of evidence found there is no clear, unambiguous evidence to show there are specific interventions that can be classed as able to definitively address ‘what works’. As the report highlights: there have been few robust assessments of school based interventions to support children and young people with ASD. However some evidence of positive outcomes across a number of interventions were identified.

  • Teacher-led interventions feature in more of the studies than other types of intervention. Some of the more effective interventions where higher attainment was achieved included reading comprehension instruction, teaching interaction strategies such as stay, play, talk and keys to play and a comprehensive treatment model.
  • Some studies discuss the training needed by those delivering an intervention and evidence suggests that additional training is always needed and that effectiveness of interventions can be diminished due to lack of sufficient training.
  • The available evidence suggests that duration of interventions does not impact on effectiveness. Some longer term interventions ran for two to three years while another lasted only six weeks; this shorter example was not detrimental as participants demonstrated reduced levels of anxiety. This highlights the difficulty in comparing interventions as the longer term interventions targeted different outcomes.
  • The most commonly reported outcomes were improvements in academic performance and social communication for individuals.
  • The studies reviewed in the REA provide a list of specific interventions found to be effective in achieving positive outcomes for young people with ASD in a number of areas, including literacy, mathematics, social skills and tackling challenging behaviour. It would be beneficial to create a library of resources based on this list of interventions, to allow practitioners in different settings to get familiar with the interventions and consider which might be most appropriate for their setting and young learners.


Effectiveness of educational interventions to support children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder: rapid evidence assessment , file type: PDF, file size: 1 MB

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David Roberts

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Telephone: 0300 025 8099

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh.