Research: Kids With Severe Autism Being Left Out Of Treatment Studies

Dec 14, 2018

A Maine-based researcher has found that kids with severe autism are increasingly left behind in treatment studies.

Dr. Matthew Siegel of Maine Behavioral Healthcare and a team of researchers combed through hundreds of studies conducted over two decades.

"That group has, in general, some very intensive needs, and in some ways needs the most attention," Siegel says. "And they're increasingly getting less attention from the research community."

After evaluating hundreds of treatment studies conducted over a 20-year period, Siegel says he found a dramatic shift.

"Early on, it was over 90 percent of studies included severely affected folks," he says, "and in the last four or five years of that time period, it was down to more like 30 percent of the studies."

And that affects treatment, says Siegel. He says he was prompted to study the issue, in part, by what he's witnessed in his practice.

"They often feel left out, because people think of autism now as Rain Main, or these high functioning people," he says, "and so they feel kind of marginalized, actually."

Siegel hopes his study, which was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, will encourage more inclusive studies.