When discussing the Naked Heart Foundation’s projects, we often stress that we use evidence-based methods when working with children and young adults with special needs. Our experts, clinical psychologist Tatiana Morozova and child neurologist Svyatoslav Dovbnya, explain why this is important.
Evidence-based practice is a new concept that has been accepted in medicine and other professions focused on helping people (psychology, speech therapy, special education, occupational therapy, social work, etc.). It is based on the principle that the specific decisions made in assistance programmes should be based on clear evidence from clinical trials of the effectiveness and safety of existing methods. This research should meet the standards of an evidence-based approach and be confirmed by other independent studies.
The international system of evidence-based medicine is developing rapidly and now includes special research databases, such as Medline, Cochrane, and many others that facilitate the search for reliable data and contain hundreds of thousands of articles and publications from various periodicals. These publications are summarised by specialists from the world’s leading universities into peer-reviewed abstracts of randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews. This keeps professionals from having to “dig” randomly through millions of publications, and allows them to receive up-to-date information organised according to the degree of the research’s credibility.
Not that long ago, medicine, rehabilitation, psychology, and special education were dominated by so-called “generally accepted methods”, which were considered traditional and passed down from one generation of specialists to another without any real base of scientific evidence. Until the second half of the 20th century, doctors and specialists from the other helping professions worldwide relied solely on personal experience and the “expert opinions” of their more experienced colleagues in questions of diagnostics and disability support programs. This has sometimes led to errors or even dire consequences. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, teeth were removed to treat mental disorders, heroin produced by Bayer was recommended for children as a cough remedy and painkiller, the cause of autism was explained by the “Refrigerator Mother” theory, etc.
The use of evidence-based practices ensures that only proven, modern methods are used, prevents us from repeating other’s mistakes and trying to “reinvent the wheel,” and ultimately allows for the development of modern, effective programmes that provide maximum benefit at a minimal cost to children and parents.
To learn more about evidence-based support for children with autism spectrum disorders, please watch these lectures and webinars:
Lecture by Connie Kasari, Professor of Human Development and Psychology at the University of California:
Lecture by John Phillips, MD, Professor in the department of child neurology at the University of New Mexico; medical director at the Mind Research Network:
Webinar on effective support programmes for children with cerebral palsy:
Webinar devoted to evidence-based methods of helping people with autism:
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