I found this to be a good read. I also posted to my autism blog here if you are interested.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
Among the many variations now in practice include pivotal response training, a play-based interactive model that sidesteps the one-behavior-at-a-time practice of traditional ABA to target what research shows to be ‘pivotal’ areas of a child’s development, such as motivation, self-management, and social initiations. Another is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a play-based therapy focused on children between the ages 1 and 4 that takes place in a more natural environment—a play mat, for example, rather than the standard therapist-across-from-child setup. These innovations have in part stemmed from the trend toward earlier diagnosis and the need for a therapy that could be applied to young children.
Each type of ABA is often packaged with other treatments, such as speech or occupational therapy, so that no two children’s programs may look alike. “It’s like a Chinese buffet,” says Fred Volkmar, Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at the Yale University Child Study Center and lead author of “Evidence-Based Practices and Treatments for Children with Autism,” a book many consider the go-to reference for ABA.
Given the diversity of treatments, it’s hard to get a handle on the evidence base of ABA. There is no one study that proves it works. It’s difficult to enroll children with autism in a study to test a new therapy, and especially to enroll them in control groups. Most parents are eager to begin treating their children with the therapy that is the standard of care.
There is a large body of research on ABA, but few studies meet the gold standard of the randomized trial. In fact, the first randomized trial of any version of ABAafter Lovaas’ 1987 paper wasn’t published until 2010. It found that toddlers who received ESDM therapy for 20 hours a week over a two-year period made significant gains over those who got the usual care available in the community.
That year, a report from the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, a source of scientific evidence for education practices, found that of 58 studies on Lovaas’ ABA model, only one met its standards, and another met them only with reservations.
Also noteworthy is this article:
I don’t normally read articles like this, but it is short and to the point. The last paragraphy summarizes it nicely:
The reality is Hillary Clinton can’t do squat except veto bills that have spending. She can propose a budget like all the other presidential candidates do (why bother?, there is no connection between this and a real budget).
"Science paces technology, technology paces industry, industry paces economics and economics paces politics. Quite clearly, then, political leaders are at the tail end of affairs." – Buckminster Fuller
Given this point-of-view, why do we put so much attention on the tail end (government), when Science leads the parade? Granted we are not scientists, but shouldn’t we focus our efforts on Autism researchers? We could even focus our efforts on evaluating prior research to see how effective it is. Why can’t we find a researcher willing to review prior research? Or maybe someone is already doing this? How do I find the answer to this question?
Or maybe focusing on government is the right focus? They do fund research at the NSF and NIH. So how do you push this behemoth in the right direction and fund Autism Science Initiatives? How do these organizations work? This will also become part of my Google Searches and blog posts so we know when they are working on Autism Research.