Implementation and Effectiveness of Non-Specialist Mediated Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date

November 2019


INTRODUCTION: In recent years, several non-specialist mediated interventions have been developed and tested to address problematic symptoms associated with autism. These can be implemented with a fraction of cost required for specialist delivered interventions. This review represents a robust evidence of clinical effectiveness of these interventions in improving the social, motor and communication deficits among children with autism. METHODS: An electronic search was conducted in eight academic databases from their inception to 31st December 2018. A total of 31 randomized controlled trials were published post-2010 while only 2 were published prior to it. Outcomes pertaining to communication, social skills and caregiver-child relationship were meta-analyzed when reported in > 2 studies. RESULTS: A significant improvement was noted in child distress (SMD = 0.55), communication (SMD = 0.23), expressive language (SMD = 0.47), joint engagement (SMD = 0.63), motor skills (SMD = 0.25), parental distress (SMD = 0.33) parental self-efficacy (SMD = 0.42) parent-child relationship (SMD = 0.67) repetitive behaviors (SMD = 0.33), self-regulation (SMD = 0.54), social skills (SMD = 0.53) symptom severity (SMD = 0.44) and visual reception (SMD = 0.29). CONCLUSION: Non-specialist mediated interventions for autism spectrum disorder demonstrate effectiveness across a range of outcomes for children with autism and their caregivers.