Choosing the Right Intervention for Your Child
Your child is in need of therapeutic or educational intervention and it is time to select the right intervention.
How will you know which treatment approach to choose?
This process can be overwhelming for parents as there are many approaches, and every time you learn about an approach, each one sounds promising and more convincing than the other. New interventions and treatments arise frequently and, while they may make interesting claims about their effectiveness, they may or may not be evidence-based. Accordingly, one needs to be careful when searching the web for information, and differentiate between a family talking about their personal experience with a certain approach of treatment, versus what constitutes evidence-based practice that is supported by strict and accurate research methodologies.
What is evidence-based practice?
Evidence-based practice is based on the systemic reviews of results of research conducted on various approaches. It involves experts in the field critically evaluating research results while taking into consideration clients’ preferences, beliefs and values.
How do we know if treatments are evidence-based?
To help learn more about which treatments are evidence-based, we can refer back to recognized associations around the world that are affiliated with each field of treatment. For example, you can research The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) for the field of speech-language therapy and The National Professional Development Center (NPDS) for autism spectrum disorders.
As parents and professionals in the field, we should also learn to ask basic questions, such as:
- What constitutes evidence?
- Does the theory behind the approach make sense?
- Has the intervention been individualized based on assessment?
- Does the intervention include some form of data collection and ongoing supervision?
- What are the costs/risks and possible side effects for the child, family, or staff (including money, time, energy, and expectations)?
- What are the potential benefits?
- Will it make a difference to the child's quality of life?
- What is the quantity and quality of the evidence?
It is crucial to remember that popularity does not equal truth.
Choosing the appropriate therapy approach will offer you the opportunity to properly identify the nature of your child’s difficulties, help in developing necessary intervention plans, and assist in meeting your child’s specific needs in an appropriate and effective fashion.
It is also important to recognize that not every approach works best for each child. You will have to try the approach for a few months and re-evaluate your child’s progress and the benefits of the approach.