Autism treatments in print: Media's coverage of scientifically supported and alternative treatments

Kimberly Anne Schreck, Melissa Russell, Luis A. Vargas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

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 10years, 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-321
Number of pages23
JournalBehavioral Interventions
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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