Reference Resources iconReview Protocols

This review-specific protocol guides the review of research that informs the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention reports in the Children and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder topic area. The review-specific protocol is used in conjunction with the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook (version 3.0).

This review focuses on interventions designed for use with children and students ages 18 months to 21 years old with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The review examines the effect of interventions on the following types of outcomes: academic, communication/language competencies, problem behaviors, school engagement, self-care/daily living, self-determination, social-emotional, and transitional (i.e., the behavioral, social, and functional skills that enable young adults with disabilities to obtain and hold meaningful employment, live independently, and obtain further training and education). Interventions must be implemented in authentic education settings.

The following research questions guide this review:

  • Which interventions are effective at improving outcomes for children and students classified with an ASD? Are some interventions more effective than others for children and students classified with an ASD?
  • Does the effectiveness of interventions for children with an ASD vary by type of outcome?
  • Are some interventions more effective for particular subgroups of children and students with an ASD (for example, different levels of ASD severity, co-morbidity with other disabilities, age groups, English learner status, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and school level) or in particular settings?


Table of Contents

  • Purpose Statement
  • Key Definition
  • Procedures for Conducting the Literature Search
  • Eligibility Criteria
  • Evidence Standards

Protocol Details

  • Version: 3.0
  • Released: August 2015

What is a Protocol?

A review protocol defines the scope of a systematic review. Developed with substantive experts, the protocol defines the parameters for the review, including the research, populations, settings, and outcomes. The protocol also specifies details of the literature search and any topic-specific applications of the design standards.

Protocol versions reflect the version of WWC standards in effect when the protocol was released. Protocol versions that predate the current version of the WWC standards handbook can be used to identify acceptable outcome domains for review within a given topic. The current WWC standards are used to guide the review of studies with acceptable outcomes.

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