Autism CRC’s Interventions Evidence Report

15 Apr 2021

Update: On 16 February, 2023, Autism CRC released a new guideline based on the work in this report. The National Guideline for supporting the learning, participation, and wellbeing of autistic children and the families in Australia contains the most up-to-date information and resources for supporting autistic children, superseding the information in this report.

Autism CRC would like to clarify some points regarding our recent report, Interventions for children on the autism spectrum: A synthesis of research evidence, and the National Disability Insurance Agency’s recently released Consultation Paper: Interventions for children on the autism spectrum. Based on some questions that we have received, there appears to be some confusion amongst community members about the connection between the two.

In November 2020, Autism CRC published the landmark Interventions Evidence Report for families, clinicians, researchers and policy-makers. The report represents a pure synthesis of the available high-quality evidence about interventions for children on the autism spectrum aged up to 12 years.

The Autism CRC Interventions Evidence Report:

  • includes a broad overview of intervention for children on the autism spectrum, including the principles underpinning all interventions, and the rationale behind each category of intervention, such as developmental interventions, behavioural interventions or technology-based interventions
  • provides a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence for the effects of interventions for children on the spectrum, both therapeutic and otherwise
  • is based on a comprehensive review conducted to international best-practice standards, including use of only the highest quality of evidence, and includes all data and methodological descriptions used in the review process.

The report was commissioned by the NDIA. It was independently produced by an expert team of researchers engaged by Autism CRC.

At end of March this year, the NDIA released its Consultation Paper: Interventions for children on the autism spectrum. This consultation paper calls for, “input and feedback from participants, their families and caregivers, as well as providers and the disability sector to assist in developing clearer advice on National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding of early intervention services for children on the autism spectrum,” with responses to be submitted to the NDIA by 14 May 2021.

The NDIA consultation paper refers to evidence on early intervention approaches contained in the Autism CRC Interventions Evidence Report.

Autism CRC was not involved in the development of the NDIA’s consultation paper, including the proposed levels of funded support it contains; and the Interventions Evidence Report did not consider matters of funding.

Our Interventions Evidence Report provides the most current and comprehensive foundation of scientific evidence underpinning early intervention for children on the autism spectrum. Autism CRC strongly believes that the best next step towards ‘operationalising the science’ is the development of a consensus-based Guideline for early intervention, with comprehensive practice recommendations, in full consultation with experienced practitioners, and the autistic and autism communities. At the same time, there should be a commitment to quality research to build out the evidence-base and maintain its currency.

This process would be very similar to that which we led in developing the NHMRC-approved National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia, launched in October 2018 after extensive consultation across Australia with the clinical, allied health, service provider, autistic and autism communities.