Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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3.5 The Research Autism database

Note: We have recently (6 October 2020) been advised that the link to Research Autism is no longer available. We are currently rewriting the activity to reflect this, so please bear with us. This won’t impact on your progress and you’ll still be able to earn your badge without completing this activity.

A UK information service, Research Autism, has a database [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] offering accessible and impartial guidance on as many as possible of the known interventions for autism, including a description of each approach, and a grading across the range from strongly positive to a warning that the intervention could be harmful (Research Autism, 2018). The evaluations, made by experts commissioned by Research Autism, are a valuable and authoritative source, whether for researchers and practitioners seeking a quick update, or for parents and individuals with autism, who may not have access to the full academic literature concerning evidence for interventions.

Activity 3 Getting to know the Research Autism website

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Use the following link to access the list of interventions which have been evaluated by Research Autism. Have a look at the description and evaluation of the different interventions and locate ones which have these symbols next to them:

Hover over the symbols on the website and note down what they mean. Here's the link:

Our Evaluations of Autism Interventions, Treatments and Therapies


Two ticks next to an intervention indicates that there is ‘strong positive evidence’ to suggest the intervention is effective. If you click on the specific intervention, you will find out more about that intervention and its benefits.

A question mark means that the evidence for the intervention is mixed or insufficient.

An exclamation mark indicates that the intervention risks physical and/or psychological harm to people who experience it. Research Autism advises that the procedure should not be used.

The next sections outline some well-known and widely used interventions for autism, followed by some recent developments in the intervention field. Note that while none of these interventions is considered risky in application, the level of evidence varies, and at least one of these approaches attracts widely polarised views among practitioners. Most of these interventions are included in the Research Autism evaluation list, and you will find reports on the others elsewhere on the Research Autism website.

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