The Autism Society’s Panel of Professional Advisors (PPA) has developed guidelines to evaluate theories and practices related to autism. Listed here are questions to ask providers as you research treatment options:
- Do you adhere to the Priorities of Professional Conduct promulgated by the Autism Society?
- What is the purpose of this theory/practice?
- What do I have to do to benefit from the theory/practice, and what are its lasting effects?
- What is the status of this theory/practice relative to controlled (scientific) investigation, and is there a reference list of publications?
- How long must my child be involved in this theory/practice to benefit from it?
- Are there any physical or psychological harms that might come to my child as a result of participating in this theory/practice?
- What are the personal costs of time and money that I will have to endure, and can I be reimbursed for these expenses?
- How do I know that the costs for the implementation of this theory/practice are fair and reasonable?
- Are the theoreticians or practitioners competently and appropriately trained and prepared to implement the provisions of the theory or practice, and how is this competence assured?
- What steps will be taken to protect my privacy?
- Are there any legal actions, current or past, against promoters, consumers or practitioners of the theory/practice?
- How will the effects of this theory/practice be evaluated for my child?
- By choosing this theory/practice, what alternatives (proven or unproven) are not being pursued?
- Does this approach exclude other alternative approaches and does it mesh with my child’s total program?
- Which individuals with autism has this theory positively benefited, and under what conditions?
In addition to guidelines developed by the Autism Society, the National Institute of Mental Health suggests the following list of questions parents can ask when planning a treatment program for their child:
- How successful has the program been for other children?
- How many children have gone on to placement in a regular school and how have they performed?
- Do staff members have training and experience in working with children with autism?
- How are activities planned and organized?
- Are there predictable daily schedules and routines?
- How much individual attention will my child receive?
- How is progress measured? Will my child’s behavior be closely observed and recorded?
- Will my child be given tasks and rewards that are personally motivating?
- Is the environment designed to minimize distractions?
- Will the program prepare me to continue the therapy at home?
- What is the cost, time commitment, and location of the program?
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