DDI is a not for profit agency that has provided program services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities for over 40 years. DDI has always been committed to ensuring that evidenced-based interventions are used across its educational and adult service programs. These are interventions with documented peer reviewed research supporting their effectiveness. Further, this effectiveness must have been replicated across investigators, subjects and/or settings. The use of such evidenced-based practices ensures that DDI is providing the individuals served in its programs with effective teaching and intervention methods. DDI uses evidenced based practices which promote the well being and protect the rights of individuals served in its programs.
During its history, DDI has participated in a large number of research projects designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of specific interventions for individuals with autism and related disorders. Many of these projects were in collaboration with Dr. Ted Carr who was affiliated with DDI for over 30 years, and a leader in the field of autism and related developmental disabilities. The outcomes of Dr. Carr’s empirical research in areas such as functional communication training, positive behavior supports and functional behavior analysis provided a foundation for DDI’s approach to educational and interventional methods.
Although much is now understood about autism and related disorders, its causes remain elusive. As has historically been the case when a disorder does not have a known cause or cure, interventions without empirical examination surface to compete with the current best practices. A subset of these interventions make dramatic claims despite lacking data to empirically support such claims. Unfortunately, they often spark much attention and hope, especially on the part of families committed to finding treatments that will significantly improve their loved ones quality of life.
DDI recognizes and embraces its responsibility as an evidenced-based program to provide interventions which not only improve the lives of the individuals served in its programs, but which also meet the rigors of peer reviewed, scientific investigation. Effective, evidenced-based strategies are those interventions and/or teaching strategies that:
- Have been documented in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal with demonstrated effectiveness.
- Have been replicated across investigators, subjects and settings.
- Have clear written guidelines for implementation, and resources for practitioners to obtain training and technical support.
- Produce positive, measurable, quality of life outcomes, included those that have been implicated by the authors, that promote and maintain the welfare of participants.
Periodically, a DDI program is asked to consider the adoption of a new or different intervention or teaching approach. Frequently, this occurs following reports in the media and/or testimonials from families who report dramatic improvements as a result of a particular practice. When this occurs, the Research Review Committee may be asked to assess whether the approach meets the above-stated criteria for evidence-based procedures. The person initiating the inquiry may be asked to assist in identifying whether the strategy has been scientifically examined, and/or to provide references to documentation related to the procedure. If useful, the Committee may take additional steps such as contacting those persons/authors/developers primarily associated with the intervention for clarification and/or further information. This review will be trying to determine whether the strategy meets criteria for an effective, evidenced-based procedure.
Upon completion of this review, the Research Review Committee will develop a position statement on the intervention, in terms of whether it meets the criteria discussed in the current document along with ensuring that it provides for the safety, well being and protects the rights of any participants. The Research Review Committee will document its review of the intervention, current status in the field of developmental disabilities and make recommendations to program staff and family, and other interested parties. However, it should be noted that the Research Review Committee will not support the use of interventions or teaching strategies which have no published empirical support.