I hope this is OK to quote (it’s a short section from the report I referred to above):
Patricia Howlin, Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, looked at the psychological interventions available for children and young people with developmental disorders (many linked with autism treatments) and the evidence base for their efficacy.
Of the many interventions available, whatever their direction – traditional,complementary, alternative – there was little methodology, control studies or randomised control trials.
Even amongst the better-known programmes, such as TEACCH (teaching and education for autistic and communication disordered children), PECS (picture exchange communication system) and Functional Analysis, there was only a moderate evidence-base, with the most impressive results being available with the EIBI (early intensive behavioural intervention).
Professor Howlin outlined some of the questions raised in respect of these programmes, such as for what sorts of children do they work, how long should treatment last, how many hours per day/week, what age should treatment commence etc. Whilst there appeared to be no definitive answers, most effective therapies appeared to be those with direct parental involvement, intensive behavioural intervention and multi-component early intervention.
The general recommendation by the National Autism Plan UK was that treatment should last a minimum of 12 months and be an average of 15-20 hours per week and that an early diagnosis and therapy did not appear to reduce opportunities for later intervention. In conclusion, Professor Howlin summed up that no single programme was likely to work with all children with all types of problem. However, techniques developed from psychological, educational, social and language research/theory could have a major impact on improving the quality of life for children and their families.