Experts have published the best available high-quality evidence about interventions for children on the autism spectrum.

Australia’s Autism CRC has published a landmark report for families, clinicians, researchers and policy makers, commissioned by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and produced by an expert team of researchers.

Evidence shows that effective intervention during childhood plays an important role in promoting learning and participation in everyday life activities for children on the autism spectrum, who make up approximately 2.4 per cent of Australian children under the age of 14 years, however, navigating the range of interventions can be difficult.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse, Autism CRC Research Strategy Director, says the new report provides families and clinicians the best opportunity to make informed decisions when choosing interventions.

“The 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,” Prof Whitehouse said.

“It also provides a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence for the effects of interventions for children on the spectrum, both therapeutic and otherwise. The evidence review was conducted to international best-practice standards, including only the highest quality of evidence.

“A total of 58 systematic reviews were included in the review of evidence. These drew on data from 1,787 unique studies,” he said.

Griffith University researcher David Trembath says the report will be of benefit to the whole autism community.

“Families can use this report to learn about the different types of interventions and select those that are most likely to be helpful for their child and family as a whole,” A/Prof Trembath said.

“Australia has among the best trained clinicians in the world. This report will help clinicians to further understand the evidence underpinning the interventions they do and do not provide, and guide their clinical practice accordingly,” he said.

“Key policy decisions should always be informed by robust evidence. This report presents the current evidence for Australia's policy makers.

“And for researchers, the report is a roadmap for the work that still needs to be done.”

The report is accessible here.