In this study, we looked at published research on interventions for young autistic children that did not involve administering medication. We were interested in determining how often studies reported on whether adverse events (i.e. physical or psychological distress to the participants) or adverse effects (i.e. adverse events that are thought to be caused by the intervention) had occurred. We found that of the 150 reports we examined, only 11 mentioned adverse events. One of these studies reported adverse events occurred, and three reported that adverse effects occurred. We also reviewed the studies to examine the reasons that were given to explain why any participants dropped out of the intervention (termed "withdrawal"), to determine if any of these reasons could be considered adverse events or adverse effects. Fifty-four studies described reasons for withdrawal, and 10 of these studies had reasons that could be categorized as an adverse event, 8 studies had reasons that could be categorized as an adverse effect, and an additional 12 studies had reasons that were too vaguely described to determine whether they were adverse events or not. We recommend that autism intervention researchers develop more systematic methods of looking for and reporting adverse events and effects, so that professionals and families can be better informed when choosing to enroll their autistic children in interventions.
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