Dr. Laci Watkins’ “Evidence-Based Social Communication Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (Watkins, Kuhn, Ledbetter-Cho, Gevarter, & O’Reilly, 2017) was selected for Springer Nature’s Change the World initiative. This initiative invites the Editors-in-Chief of Springer Nature journals across disciplines to select the scientific findings published in 2017 that they believe could have an impact on society’s most pressing problems. The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness about cutting-edge research results that can help humanity and to connect academics, business leaders, and policy makers to generate solutions to pressing issues worldwide.

The purpose of the selected paper was to highlight the evidence-based practices found within the intervention literature that specifically targets social communication impairments in children with ASD and to provide an overview of these strategies. Four relevant themes regarding evidence-based social communication interventions were considered and discussed:

  • social communication outcomes and practices relevant to different stages of development,
  • practices that both reduce interfering behaviors and improve social communication skills,
  • practices that utilize an eclectic combination of intervention strategies, and
  • considerations for practice and research.

New data indicates that 1 in 59 children has ASD, which is a 15% increase from 2012. Interventions that can bring about meaningful change in the lives of children with ASD and their families are vital in order to improve long term outcomes.

Dr. Watkins is a faculty member in the Department of Special Education and Multiple Abilities.  Contact Dr. Watkins.