York U Autism Researcher Co-Author on Recommendations Report for Ontario Autism Program

Toronto, March 31, 2017 – In June 2017, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services will be launching the new Ontario Autism Program to help individuals with autism access quality services that they deserve. The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA) assembled a group of behaviour analysts with prominent research and practice expertise, including York University Faculty of Health’s professor, Adrienne Perry. This expert committee today released a comprehensive scientific 135-page report on Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This report emphasizes:

  • Individuals with autism have the right to receive effective, individualized, evidence-based intervention across their lifespan.
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is the gold standard evidence-based intervention for individuals with ASD.
  • The type, intensity, and duration of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) interventions for individuals with autism should be based on need to maximize the individual’s success.
  • Individuals with autism receiving services and their families should be partners in decision-making throughout intervention.

This scientific report was informed by over 2,000 studies and existing practice guidelines from several professional international behaviour analytic organizations. It is intended to help answer critical questions being posed by parents, professionals, and government on how services should be provided for children and youth with autism in Ontario. Specifically, it addresses intensity and duration of services, how the individual’s age impacts clinical decision-making, and how services should be planned, implemented, supervised, and monitored.

“Children and people may need a variety of different kinds of interventions to help them develop communication skills social skills, play skills etc. in order to learn new things and also to reduce some of the problem behaviours that go along with autism,” said Adrienne Perry, professor in the department of psychology in the faculty of health at York University. “Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) and all of the many different forms of it are very effective for both teaching skills across a wide variety of developmental areas and also reducing behavioural challenges. We’ve presented the research in terms of what works for different ages and different developmental areas.”

“There is overwhelming evidence that ABA interventions can dramatically improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families” said Louis Busch, President of ONTABA. “Individuals with autism should be able to access high quality individualized ABA interventions as needed throughout their life. In addition to advocating for quick access to high quality individualized behaviour analytic services, we are concerned that children and families are protected from false or misleading claims about effective treatments and from unqualified practitioners.”

The report says early intervention with ABA is key right from the beginning.

“In addition to intensive behavioural intervention, which is a form of ABA intervention typically prescribed for younger children and targets a comprehensive range of goals in all developmental areas (typically for 30-40 hours per week), we’ve emphasised in this report the large body of research about "Focussed ABA interventions", said Perry. “Focused ABA interventions are more specific evidence-based practices which target one or a few goals in a more time-limited manner, perhaps for 10-25 hours per week, and which are applicable for individuals of all ages.”

“We sincerely hope the information in this report will be helpful in very practical ways to families and practitioners as they try to make the best decisions for their children and their clients. We also hope this information will help policy makers use public dollars most effectively to meet the needs of this vulnerable population” said Dr. Julie Koudys, Chair of the Expert Committee.

The collective efforts of professionals, parents, and policy makers working in concert have the power to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals with autism and their families. To this end, ONTABA adds its voice to the dialogue about what is needed for the treatment of individuals with autism. ONTABA remains committed to working with families, practitioners, and policy makers to ensure the provision of the most effective treatment, which is the ethical and effective application of behaviour analysis in Ontario.

For more information on about this report, visit www.ontaba.org.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

ONTABA is the largest professional organization representing behaviour analysts in Canada. We serve as a resource for practitioners and consumers of behaviour analytic services, a respected community partner, and a dedicated advocate for individuals in need of life-changing behaviour analytic services. Our mission is to demonstrate leadership, knowledge, and innovation in education, training, and research for the ethical and effective application of behaviour analysis.

Media Contacts:
Anjum Nayyar, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 44543 anayyar@yorku.ca

Nancy Marchese, Expert Committee Member, 416-889-7572, nancy@breakthroughautism.com