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As a policy, CARD will not lend its name to the endorsement of any specific program, practice, or model that is offered for service to people with autism and related disabilities. This policy does not preclude the provision of referral options or individualized recommendations by CARD staff, nor does it imply that CARD staff are to refrain from sharing any knowledge or personal experiences. The sharing of information, training, and the development of recommendations are key functions of the CARD programs.

This policy is based on the following rationales:

1. CARD recognizes that people who have autism, autism spectrum disorder, or a disability that is related to autism comprise a diverse population of individuals. Although they may share a diagnosis, each individual possesses a variety of unique strengths, challenges, and learning characteristics. Furthermore, each individual's life is influenced by factors associated with an idiosyncratic ecology and social-familial context. These personal and environmental factors underscore the importance of individualization as a necessary and pervasive consideration in the development of intervention and support programs.

2. CARD recognizes that the cause(s) of autism are unknown and that there is no single intervention (treatment) that has been demonstrated to be effective in curing autism. Although appropriate and individualized interventions have been shown to be very helpful, and although progress is occurring at a steady rate, autism is considered to be a lifelong disability.

3. CARD recognizes that the syndrome of autism has been associated with a tremendous number and diversity of interventions (treatments) representing a vast range of professional disciplines and philosophical orientations. These interventions are supported by varying amounts of data in the empirical research literature and/or by case descriptions, and/or anecdotal testimonials. Although some interventions are complementary, many current practices have approaches or conceptual models that are distinctly incompatible with one another.


2001-2002 CARD-USF staff

4. CARD asserts that there are general strategies and principles that comprise current "best practices" for people with autism and related disabilities. However, CARD also recognizes that there is no single program practice, program or model that can be regarded as the most appropriate option for all individuals. The most effective and appropriate program of intervention (treatment) and support must be defined on the basis of numerous variables including: (a) the person's idiosyncratic strengths, needs, desires, and learning characteristics; (b) the preferences and attributes of the person's family and relevant caregivers; (c) the programs and other resources that are available or that can be developed in the community; and (d) the relevant information pertaining to the effectiveness and efficiency of alternative programs, interventions, and supports. Current best practice is not a set of procedures but an ever changing and increasing body of knowledge based on research, experience, understanding, and values.

5. CARD is committed to an individualized approach that addresses the specific needs of people with autism and related disabilities, their families, and support providers. Furthermore, CARD recognizes that the formal endorsement of any specific program, model, or practice can be regarded as inconsistent with this commitment and that such an endorsement can be regarded as disrespectful of alternatives that might be preferred by, and most appropriate for, some constituents.