Mike Krings wrote this release for the University of Kansas:
Autism affects children from all walks of life, and education professionals need scientifically based interventions to help those affected develop reading and other life skills. However, a recent study has found that the research used to identify “evidence-based practices” very rarely reports racial and ethnic status of its participants.
That presents a problem because response to an intervention is not guaranteed and it’s not always clear why one child will respond positively to certain methods while another will not, a University of Kansas researcher has found.
“I think teachers and researchers can tend to categorize these methods with the label evidence-based practices and assume they will be effective when that’s not always the case,” said Jason Travers, assistant professor of special education at the University of Kansas and a co-author of the study. “In our field we’ve been working to identify practices that are effective for students with autism. By clarifying how racial and ethnic diversity of participants impacts intervention effects, we can increase the probability of educational benefit.”
Travers and co-authors examined 408 peer-reviewed, published studies of evidence-based practices for autism intervention. Only 73 of them, or 17.9 percent, reported the race, ethnicity or nationality of participants. And of those, white children comprised a large majority. Of the nearly 2,500 participants in the studies, only 770 reported race, and 489 or 63.5 percent were white. Multiracial participants comprised 20.6 percent; black and Asian participants represented 6.8 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively; Hispanic/Latino comprised 2.5 percent; Middle Eastern participants made up 1.3 percent, and only one Native American participant was reported.
The study was co-authored by Elizabeth West, Talya Kemper, Lisa Liberty, Debra Cote, Meaghan McCollow and L. Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan and was published in the Journal of Special Education. The authors are members of the diversity committee on the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division of Autism and Developmental Disorders.The abstract:
Selection of a special education evidence-based practice (EBP) requires developing an understanding of what interventions work as well as for whom they are effective. This review examined participant characteristics in the EBP literature for learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) identified by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Results indicated very limited representation of diverse participants in the entire body of research, and when reported, White youth represented a large majority of study participants. This work is an attempt to begin to better understand the extent that various contextual factors are reported in a body of literature used to identify EBPs. Implications for ASD research are discussed along with recommendations for future research.