Characteristics of Effective Interventions

Features of PracticeCommon Characteristics of Empirically Supported Interventions
Assessment and goalsSystematically assess skills
Include input of family (shared decision-making)
Select individualized measurable goals and instructional procedures on the basis of objective assessment of each child
Use assessment-based, empirically supported instructional methods to build, generalize, and maintain skills and reduce problem behaviors
Instructional methodsAddress core symptoms in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors as well as skill deficits
Provide a student/teacher ratio low enough to address the child’s individualized goals
Interventions should be by providers who are properly trained and should maintain fidelity with the treatment approach selected
Ensure that multiple providers work collaboratively
Services and supportsIndividualize services and support
Make use of the child’s interests and preferences in determining reinforcement systems
Incorporate preferred activities to increase engagement in activities
EnvironmentProvide a structured learning environment that helps children anticipate transition between activities, including a predictable routine and visual activity schedules
Organize workspaces to minimize distraction and promote task completion
Limit access to things that may distract a student
The environment should promote opportunities for the student to initiate communication and interact with peers
Behavioral managementImplement a functional behavioral analysis to identify the reasons why challenging behaviors occur and develop a behavior improvement plan based on this assessment (IDEA-mandated approach)
Teach children more appropriate responses using the behavior improvement plan
ProgressSystematically measure and document the individual child’s progress
Adjust instructional strategies as necessary to enable acquisition of target skills
Family supportInvolve and educate families so they can use the behavioral strategies at home and in the community
Transition planningPlan for transitions in school settings and to adulthood (eg, from home-based early intervention to preschool services, preschool to elementary school, elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to work or postsecondary education, and home to community living)
  • Adapted from Smith T, Iadarola S. Evidence base update for autism spectrum disorder. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2015;44(6):897–922; Myers SA, Pipinos II, Johanning JM, Stergiou N. Gait variability of patients with intermittent claudication is similar before and after the onset of claudication pain. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2011;26(7):729–734; and Myers SM. Management of autism spectrum disorders in primary care. Pediatr Ann. 2009;38(1):42–49.