Understanding autism
Understanding autism

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Understanding autism

3.2 Pilot and small-scale studies

The initial stage of evaluation is an exploratory or pilot study in which the proposed intervention is tried with just a few autistic individuals. Of course, full ethical safeguards must be ensured, and the participants (or parents on participants’ behalf) must give their consent to participation.

If a pilot study suggests a positive effect, a more formal, small-scale evaluation can be carried out. Again this may involve just a small group of participants, who are observed for a period before the intervention, while it is carried out, and for a period of time afterwards. A common procedure for this is a multiple-baseline study. Each participant is observed for a period before the intervention to establish a baseline for the behaviour to be targeted by the intervention e.g. how often the child communicates verbally. The length of the observation period is varied such that the intervention start date is staggered across participants. This makes it easier to ascertain that any change, such as more verbal communications, is due to the intervention itself. If all children started the intervention simultaneously, they might all experience another new factor (e.g. a change of teacher) which could be causing any changed behaviour.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus