NIMH Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) 2008 RFI
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
September 9, 2008
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Office of Autism Research Coordination – NIMH
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8203, MSC 9669
Bethesda, MD 20892-9669
Dear IACC Members,
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) is a nonprofit organization with the mission of informing the public about science-based autism treatments and to increase access to effective intervention for those affected by autism spectrum disorders. As such, we are interested in responding to your request on high priority areas and concerns for the autism community.
A central concern for individuals with ASD and their families surrounds identifying and accessing effective education and treatment. The large number of ineffective methods that are publicized is of great concern as it creates confusion for consumers since evidence does not support the vast number of purported claims. This is directly in line with ASAT's mission, and thus we offer our support and guidance in providing the most up to date information. Multidisciplinary, state task forces (e.g., New York State Department of Health, Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities) who have comprehensively reviewed the autism treatment literature and the U.S. Surgeon General's report on autism unanimously found overwhelming and clear evidence that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most effective autism intervention, and went so far as to recommend it as a primary treatment modality. Hundreds of research articles in peer-reviewed journals also substantiate the effectiveness of ABA as a treatment for this population. This is important to underscore, since mention of these sources and their findings is often omitted from reports and assertions of effectiveness in autism intervention. While it is true that there exists insufficient or no empirical evidence to support the majority of the treatments put forth to address autism, ABA has a lengthy empirical backing of solid evidence.
Though not an easy or inexpensive approach, and certainly not a cure for autism, ABA deserves better review and accurate representation. Also noteworthy is that ABA has been shown to increase independence, offering a cost savings over a lifetime of care. More effort is required to see ABA better embraced in educational settings and applied to adolescents and adults with ASD. The first step is to provide research-based information that leads to real hope.
Mary McDonald, Ph.D., BCBA, Chair
Jane M. Barbin, Ph.D., BCBA