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EBP Compendium: Summary of Clinical Practice Guideline

Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists; Department of Health (UK); National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
RCSLT Clinical Guidelines: 5.4 Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Taylor-Goh, S., ed. (2005).
RCSLT Clinical Guidelines. Bicester, Speechmark Publishing Ltd.

AGREE Rating: Highly Recommended


This guideline provides recommendations for assessment and treatment of preschool and school-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The target audience of this guideline is speech-language pathologists. Recommendations are based on randomized controlled trials (Level A Evidence), well-conducted clinical studies (Level B Evidence), or expert opinion (Level C Evidence). 


  • Assessment/Diagnosis
    • Assessment Areas
      • Cognition/Language
        • Professionals should consider the triad of social impairments and theories of each impairment during the assessment process (Level B Evidence). Specifically, consideration should be given to:
        • the individual’s ability to “direct and maintain shared attention” (Level B Evidence) (p. 36).
        • the individual’s “readiness and ability to focus and shift attention” (Level B Evidence) (p. 36).
        • qualitative aspects of social interaction skills in a variety of settings (Level B Evidence) (p. 36).
        • the individual’s use of communicative strategies (Level B Evidence) (p. 37).
        • the child’s play (Level B Evidence) (p. 37).
        • the individual’s learning potential (Level C Evidence) (p. 37).
        • possible mental health impacts (Level C Evidence)(p. 37).
  • Treatment
    • Cognition/Language
      • General Findings - “Early intervention is likely to be beneficial in fostering the development of communication skills in children with ASD” (Level B Evidence) (p. 38).
      • Pragmatic/Social Skills - “Approaches that focus on social functioning should be introduced as an on-going intervention strategy from early years to adulthood” (Level B Evidence) (p. 38).
      • Alternative and Augmentative Communicaiton (AAC) - “Consideration should be given to the use of alternative and augmentative communication systems (low and high technology)” (Level B Evidence) (p. 38).
  • Service Delivery
    • Provider
      • Diagnosis and management of ASD should be multidisciplinary (Level C Evidence) and professionals should work collaboratively with parents, teachers and others involved in day-to-day care of the individual to ensure consistency and increase generalization and maintenance of communication skills (Level B Evidence) (p. 35).  

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders

Access the Guideline

Added to Compendium: November 2010

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