Evidence Based Practices

Laura M. Justice defines evidence based practice (EBP) as “the process by which the clinician integrates these four areas of knowledge to arrive at the best plan of action for a particular client” (Justice, 2010). The four areas Justice is referring to are theoretical knowledge (stemming from theories of what we already know), empirical knowledge (coming from scientific journals), practical knowledge (personal experience and experience from colleges), and personal knowledge (what you know about the individual who needs interventions). Combining all four areas will allow you to create the best possible intervention plan for the individual with whom you are treating. The process of piecing together an EBP intervention plan should begin anew with each individual you treat, teach, or with whom you interact.

Many people view EBP as interventions that exclusively come from empirical knowledge. While empirical knowledge is essential in EBP, it does not-and should not-be the only area used. Information gathered from family members are very helpful in selecting an intervention. Likewise, your own professional experience should not be viewed as worthless. All areas mentioned by Justice should be used in finding appropriate intervention practices.

How to Find Evidence Based Practices

Many tested EBP can be found in scientific journals. If you are a parent or teacher that lacks the professional experience with ASD, then there is nothing wrong with researching empirical sources to find an EBP intervention to use. Although, it might be good to consult with other professionals before making a final decision. Finding empirical sources may be difficult if you don’t belong to a professional organization that supplies you with journals; however, there are still some options.

Some professional organizations will allow those who do not practice the corresponding discipline to join as guests. However, this typically means higher membership dues. For professionals lacking an organization, Springer offers online memberships that will get you electronic copies of several different journals. Teachers may have access through the teachers union to which they belong (you will need to contact your representative to see what is made available to you and how to access it). Students should have access to many journal articles through their university’s online library. For anyone who does not wish to spend money on a membership, JSTOR and Google Scholar are a couple of free alternatives; however, you may not get to access as many articles as you need through these free services. I will also list some links at the bottom of the page that may be beneficial as a starting point.

Overview of some EBP

Many EBP are based upon applied behavioral analysis (ABA). Here are a few different EBP with brief descriptions.

  1. Exercise (ECE). This EBP is exactly what it sounds like. You are using different exercise activities to either increase or decrease a behavior. ECE may also be used in dealing with some sensory processing problems.
  2. Prompting (PP). Prompts-whether it be verbal, physical, or gestural-are given to the individual prior to the accomplishment of the desired skill. The exact timing of when to give the prompt may vary.
  3. Scripting (SC). Social routines are taught to aid in social communication. The idea behind scripting is social communication in certain scenarios will be improved with practice outside of the actual social demand. A classic example is ordering a meal at McDonalds.
  4. Technology-aided instruction and intervention (TAII). Many individuals with ASD love technology. TAII employs the use of technology to help those with ASD learn various skills, complete tasks, communicate with those around them, and/or improve the quality of daily living. AAC devices may come into play by using TAII. See the page on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for more information.


EBP take a while to learn and implement properly. VCU Autism Center for Excellence (https://vcuautismcenter.org/resources/EBP.cfm) provides some helpful websites to learn more on EBP. Also, check out The National Professional Development Center on ASD and go through some tutorials on various EBP. The link can be found at: http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/evidence-based-practices.

Justice, L. M. (2010). Communication sciences and disorders: a contemporary perspective (2nd. ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.