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Res Dev Disabil. 2003 Mar-Apr;24(2):120-38.

Efficacy of behavioral interventions for reducing problem behavior in persons with autism: a quantitative synthesis of single-subject research.

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Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA.


The efficacy of behavioral interventions for problem behavior in persons with autism was reviewed. One hundred and seventeen published articles representing 181 individuals with autism were examined. Articles were selected from 15 journals. Participant, treatment, and experimental variables were evaluated. Three effect sizes were calculated for each article. Behavioral treatments are effective in reducing problematic behaviors in individuals with autism. Type of target behavior and type of treatment did not moderate the average effect of treatment. As measured by percentage of zero data (PZD), three variables were predictive of behavioral suppression beyond that accounted for by behavioral topography and treatment type. Reliability of observation and number of treatment data points were positively related to PZD scores. Treatments based on experimental functional analysis (EFA) produced higher average PZD scores than treatments that did not include an EFA. The implications of the findings, study limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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