Work begins on a national practice guideline for supporting children on the autism spectrum and their families

29 Jun 2021

We are pleased to let you know that we are beginning work on a national practice guideline for supporting the development and participation of children on the autism spectrum and their families.

This guideline will build on the comprehensive and current review of the international high-quality evidence base presented in our 2020 report, Interventions for children on the autism spectrum: A synthesis of research evidence. The report shows there is still much research to do to develop a full picture of high-quality evidence for therapeutic approaches that might support the goals of children on the autism spectrum and their families.

At the same time, the evidence summarised in the report also reflects a significant increase in the quantity and quality of international research outputs over the past decade. It is essential that this science is now operationalised through the development of practice guidance in the Australian context, combining the evidence-base with the expertise of both practitioners and people with lived experience as equal partners in the process – consistent with best practice guideline development.

The development of current, evidence-based practice is critical for ensuring the most appropriate and effective services for children and families, across all service systems.

The guideline will inform and equip families, so they might make more informed choices, and provide health, disability, education and other child services professionals with a unifying set of language and standards for consistent, effective and ethical program delivery.

We intend to formally begin the guideline development project in July–August 2021 and expect that it will be completed in the second half of 2022. This project will be developed independently using Autism CRC funding and in-kind contributions. The project will be led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse and Associate Professor David Trembath.

Consistent with the process used by Autism CRC for the development of the NHMRC-approved National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism in Australia, this new guideline will be developed in close collaboration with professionals and the community, guided by a reference group comprising representatives of the key stakeholder communities (including autistic individuals, parents/siblings/caregivers, practitioners and professional peak bodies).

Stakeholder communities will be engaged through a number of avenues during the project, including Delphi surveys, and targeted and broad community consultation processes.

Importantly, the guideline development process will be focused on achieving consensus amongst all stakeholders on the key components for effective, ethical, feasible and acceptable supports for children on the autism spectrum and their families. 

We are excited to begin this important project, and will provide more information on the project activities and stakeholder engagement schedule by the end of September 2021.