Summary of the Systematic Review

Article Citation

Evaluation of the Efficacy of Communication-Based Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Literature Review

Brunner, D. L., & Seung, H. (2009).
Communication Disorders Quarterly, 31(1), 15-41.
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Sponsoring Body

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Article Quality Ratings

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Indicators of Review Quality

  • Yes The review states a clearly focused question/aim.
  • Yes Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided.
  • No Search strategy described in sufficient detail for replication.
  • No Included studies are assessed for study quality.
  • N/A Quality assessments are reproducible.
  • Yes Characteristics of the included studies are provided.

Article Details

Description

This is a review of the best available evidence investigating communication-based treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Questions/Aims Addressed

  1. What is the current state of empirical evidence for communication-based treatments of autism?
  2. What recommendations can be made for future research to improve on the present literature base?

Population

Children with ASD

Intervention/Assessment

Treatments addressing prelinguistic skills, language, or social pragmatic outcomes

Number of Studies Included

36

Years Included

January 2002-June 2007


Conclusions from This Systematic Review

What are Conclusions?

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Treatment

"The use of sign language training (over speech alone) has received strong empirical support through the years; however, research comparing sign language training to other treatment methods is quite limited, with mixed findings" (p. 27).

Keywords: Age, Diagnosis/Condition, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Manual Communication, School-Age Children, Young Children (Preschool), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Speech and Language, Sign Language

"The state of the evidence for [the Picture Exchange Communication System] PECS has risen to the level of empirically demonstrated efficacy with some evidence of effectiveness for specific applications of PECS. Furthermore, scientific evidence exists for the efficacy of PECS in facilitating speech development" (p. 27).

Keywords: Age, Diagnosis/Condition, Impact of AAC Use on Speech/Language Development, School-Age Children, Young Children (Preschool), Picture Cards, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

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Treatment

Mixed results were noted across the various treatment categories:

  • "Solid evidence is now available for the efficacy of several interventions, including [applied behavior analysis] ABA, naturalistic behavioral (i.e., milieu and [pivotal response training] PRT), developmental, video modeling, and [augmentative and alternative communication] AAC" (p. 27).
  • "Research supports the effectiveness of ABA, PRT, and [the Picture Exchange Communication System] PECS under certain procedural variations and among particular subgroups of children with [autism spectrum disorder] ASD" (p. 27).
  • "Interventions remaining in an exploratory stage of investigation included classroom-based treatments [e.g., Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)], social skills interventions [i.e., social skills training, social stories, peer/sibling training], and one naturalistic behavioral approach (i.e., functional communication treatment)" (p. 27).

Keywords: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Behavioral Interventions, Computer/Technology/Video-Based Instruction, PECS/General Picture Exchange, Social Communication, Speech and Language, Functional Communication Training, Hanen/More Than Words, Incidental/Naturalistic Teaching, Milieu Treatment, Parent/Caregiver-Mediated Interventions, Peer-Mediated Interventions, Pivotal Response Treatment, Relationship-Based Interventions, Social Skills Treatments/Groups, Story-Based Interventions, TEACCH/Structured Teaching

"Early-stage evidence [exists] for the application of video self-modeling to [increase] social engagement in young children with limited verbal skills" (p. 23).

Keywords: Computer/Technology/Video-Based Instruction, Social Communication

"The use of sign language training (over speech alone) has received strong empirical support through the years; however, research comparing sign language training to other treatment methods is quite limited, with mixed findings" (p. 27).

Keywords: Age, Diagnosis/Condition, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Manual Communication, School-Age Children, Young Children (Preschool), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Speech and Language, Sign Language

"Current findings ... lend support for the efficacy of parent-based developmental interventions. Furthermore, results from a single-subject study suggest that developmental methods may improve the expressive language skills of young children with autism, including those who are nonverbal" (p. 21).

Keywords: Speech and Language, Parent/Caregiver-Mediated Interventions

"Studies provide a measure of support for using naturalistic behavioral treatment methods to teach communication-related skills such as joint attention, symbolic play, turn taking, requesting, and spontaneous verbalizations to children with autism" (pp. 19-20).

Keywords: Speech and Language, Incidental/Naturalistic Teaching

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