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The Guideline

The pages in the section (accessible using the sidebar menu), in conjunction with the Recommendations and Good Practice PointsRecommendations and Good Practice Points, are a complete replication of the downloadable guideline. In this web-based format we're able to provide a better user experience.

You can continue exploring the contents of the Guideline by reading the following sections starting with the Acknowledgements, or you can jump ahead to any section you're interested in. You can also access additional resources, including eLearning opportunities, we've prepared to help you understand and implement the Guideline.

By registering for the Guidelineupdating your account to subscribe to this resource, you'll gain access to additional features and documents, including:

  • access to the Recommendations online, with the ability to easily view the supporting evidence that underpins each recommendation
  • downloadable PDF version of the full Guideline
  • downloadable PDF versions of the supporting documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Guideline focuses on practitioners delivering supports in community and clinical settings.

However, the Guideline may also be relevant to:

  • autistic children and their families
  • other people involved in supporting autistic children and their families, such as educators
  • organisations providing training to practitioners or students
  • governments and other policy-making organisations.

A practice guideline contains information about the most appropriate and safest way to provide clinical support to a particular group of people. Guidelines are intended to promote health and wellbeing, prevent harm, and to encourage best practice within the community.

A guideline includes ‘recommendations’, which are statements that describe different aspects of best practice.

Autistic children deserve a childhood full of love, family, fun, learning, and personal discovery. They should be safe, have their rights respected, and be supported. Many autistic children experience challenges to their learning, participation, and wellbeing. These challenges begin with the environment and belong to society but are often most effectively addressed through a combination of supporting children’s development of functional and personally meaningful skills; supporting families and those around them to nurture their growth; and creating safe, accessible, and enjoyable spaces.

The Guideline has been developed for practitioners who provide supports to autistic children and their families, to help ensure they are doing so in ways that are effective, safe and desirable to children and their families.

The Guideline focuses on non-pharmacological supports (i.e., not primarily based on medication) that aim to support children’s learning, participation, and wellbeing. Pharmacological and other biological-based supports, and supports specifically designed to be delivered by teachers and educators, were beyond the scope of the Guideline.

No. The Guideline describes best practice for providing safe, effective and desirable supports to autistic children and their families. While it is best practice for practitioners to follow the Recommendations in the Guideline, it is not currently mandatory.

Early childhood, primary, and secondary education plays a critical role in the learning, participation and wellbeing of autistic children and their families. However, supports delivered in these settings was beyond the scope of the Guideline because additional considerations may be required in developing and implementing Recommendations. Teachers and other educators may still find the Recommendations in this Guideline relevant to their practice.

The Guideline was developed by a Guideline Development Group, which included 15 people with a range of expertise. This included people with lived experience (autistic people and parents), professional expertise (medical and allied health), expertise in working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and expertise in human ethics.

The Guideline Development Group was supported by a Reference Group. This included representatives from organisations with members that play a critical role in supporting aspects of children’s health, development, education, participation, and wellbeing, and/or supporting parents and families in raising autistic children. These included representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities and key government agencies.

Autism CRC funded the development of the Guideline.

The Guideline was developed within an evidence-based practice framework, combining the best available research evidence, with evidence from clinical practice and the lived experience of autistic people and their families, and the preferences and unique context of each child and family. The project leads, Guideline Development Group members and the research team were committed to co-design and consultation with autistic children and adults and their family members.

The Guideline Development Group undertook a range of research and community consultation activities, including systematic reviews of the research evidence, focus groups with members of the autistic and autism communities, and community and practitioner surveys. Practitioners were nominated by each of the five peak bodies representing clinical practitioners who have expertise in key outcomes for autistic children.

More than 1,000 people participated in the community consultation. The information collected through these activities was systematically collated, analysed, and structured into a series of Recommendations to guide practice using an internationally accepted framework.

The Guideline has 84 Consensus-Based Recommendations that span the support pathway, including guiding principles, goal setting, selecting and planning supports, delivering supports, and the monitoring and safeguarding of supports.

Recommendations are key elements of practice that must be followed for a practitioner to deliver evidence-based support. Recommendations are accompanied by Good Practice Points that provide critical context to each Recommendation, such as how a Recommendation should be implemented in clinical practice, or how it is applied to a specific population or under specific circumstances.

Supporting evidence collected through the research and community consultations activities is presented for each Recommendation, and an Administration and Technical Report provides detailed information on the Guideline development process.

Yes. The Guideline was reviewed by experts in Guideline development, and also by experts in clinical practice and research.

The Recommendations in the Guideline have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which is part of the Australian Government. This means that the NHMRC considers that the guideline recommendations are systematically derived, based on the identification and synthesis of the best available scientific evidence, and developed for health professionals practising in an Australian health care setting.

Autism CRC has been funded by the Australian Government to develop resources and training to help practitioners understand more about the Guideline and how they can implement the Recommendations in their everyday practice. By registering for the Guideline, you will be kept up to date with the latest information and supporting resources available.