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AUTISM TREATMENTS IN PRINT: MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF SCIENTIFICALLY SUPPORTED AND ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS

Authors


  • We would like to sincerely thank Jennifer Hall, Julia Daly, and Shweta Ghayal for their assistance with obtaining and calculating reliability data and for editing.

Abstract

Professionals, celebrities, and media frequently suggest to parents the possible treatment options for their children with autism. Some treatment recommendations advocate for scientifically supported treatments whereas others suggest novel, untested interventions, or potentially ineffective or harmful treatments. The current study examined the print media's coverage of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and non-scientifically supported autism treatments. Over the last 10 years, print media have increasingly published articles referring to autism treatments with little scientific support and a decreased coverage of ABA. Print media's positive statements about non-scientifically supported treatments also increased over the last decade, whereas positive statements about ABA decreased. ABA received two times as many positive comments as negative; however, non-scientifically supported treatments as a group received four times as many positive comments as negative. These results could contribute to parents' decisions to implement treatments for their children with autism. To contribute to future positive perception of ABA, we provided suggestions for the dissemination of information to increase positive reporting of ABA in print media. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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