A framework of evidence-based practice for digital support, co-developed with and for the autism community Article - Août 2020

Vanessa Zervogianni, Sue Fletcher-Watson, Gerardo Herrera, Matthew Goodwin, Patricia Pérez-Fuster, Mark Brosnan, Ouriel Grynszpan

Vanessa Zervogianni, Sue Fletcher-Watson, Gerardo Herrera, Matthew Goodwin, Patricia Pérez-Fuster, Mark Brosnan, Ouriel Grynszpan, « A framework of evidence-based practice for digital support, co-developed with and for the autism community  », Autism, août 2020, pp. 1411-1422. ISSN 1362-3613

Abstract

A wide array of digital supports (such as apps) have been developed for the autism community, many of which have little or no evidence to support their effectiveness. A Delphi study methodology was used to develop a consensus on what constitutes good evidence for digital supports among the broader autism community, including autistic people and their families, as well as autism-related professionals and researchers. A four-phase Delphi study consultation with 27 panel members resulted in agreement on three categories for which evidence is required : reliability, engagement and effectiveness of the technology. Consensus was also reached on four key sources of evidence for these three categories : hands-on experience, academic sources, expert views and online reviews. These were differentially weighted as sources of evidence within these three categories. Lay abstract Digital supports are any type of technologies that have been intentionally developed to improve daily living in some way. A wide array of digital supports (such as apps) have been developed for the autism community specifically, but there is little or no evidence of whether they work or not. This study sought to identify what types of evidence the autistic community valued and wanted to see provided to enable an informed choice to be made regarding digital supports. A consensus was developed between autistic people and their families, practitioners (such as therapists and teachers) as well as researchers, to identify the core aspects of evidence that everyone agreed were useful. In all, 27 people reached agreement on three categories for which evidence is required : reliability, engagement and the effectiveness of the technology. Consensus was also reached on four key sources of evidence for these three categories : hands-on experience, academic sources, expert views and online reviews. The resulting framework allows for any technology to be evaluated for the level of evidence identifying how effective it is. The framework can be used by autistic people, their families, practitioners and researchers to ensure that decisions concerning the provision of support for autistic people is informed by evidence, that is, ‘evidence-based practice’.

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