- BY Eric KIng
Autism practise is not supported by good evidence, according to a report of the national Autism project published today
The report claims that most current policy and practice in relation to autism lacks quality evidence of benefit and cost-effectiveness. This has aborted opportunities to substantially improve the quality of life for autistic children, adults, and their families, despite reducing costs. A reduction of costs is not the most important factor here, and should not be.
A balance in the cost-benefit ratio is the relevant ingredient, but more focus has been placed on saving costs rather than raising quality.“A great deal more could and should be done to generate evidence to shape policy and improve practice in autism.”, the report states.
Funded by The Shirley Foundation, the national autism project has been bringing together “evidence on what works well for autistic people and what makes economic sense”. The report suggests that decision making and allocation of resources are below standard, requiring more investment in research to address the problem and fill in gaps in our knowledge by asking the right questions. It suggests that more effective levels of intervention may be necessary to achieve the overall intended outcomes for autistic people.
The research on autism practise was reportedly carried out by a team at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and evaluated a wide range of possible ‘interventions’ for autistic children and adults. Screening and diagnostic assessment, programmes aimed at developing the social skills of autistic children, parent training and support, employment support, personalised care and support and many others were among the interventions explored during the research.
The need for public bodies and service providers to participate in good quality effectiveness research into services and programmes currently commissioned for autistic adults and/or children and their families.
The need for commissioners to consider to what extent the claims of service providers are borne out by objective research evidence which considers the benefits or otherwise that services actually have on the lives of autistic people.
Autistic people encounter greater difficulties in accessing appropriate care and support compared to the general population. They generally have more health problems than other people, and are at a higher risk of premature death”, the report claims.
The report proposes a mechanism whereby ”different organisations and professionals within them work together to find pragmatic solutions for individual autistic people”. Many times, collaboration of a number of different organisations have the capability to effectively solve a problem and introduce notable progress. Autism is a challenging condition to deal with, but professional methods exist in addressing them in a sustained fashion. The research aimed at fully determining the best catalogue of actions and processes required to create the best conditions and environment for autistic people is a positive one worth all the effort.
Autistic individuals are set back by a genetic defect that has impaired the natural ability of the brain to think and function normally and rationally. They were born into a reality that has consigned them to an eternity of limitations, yet many of them are believed to be extremely intelligent. The irony and ostensibly wide contradiction that that holds both opposing ends of the spectrum is fascinating. Fascinating because the last thing most people would expect is for an individual with an extreme disability like autism to also possess a rare level of high intelligence, but such possibility is real.