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The following are descriptions of general principles and approaches that CARD supports as the best guidelines for developing interventions and support strategies for people with autism and related disabilities

. The first set of consideration for all people is that the person is physiologically stable, free from internal pain and irritation, and lives and participates in environments that are safe, healthy, stimulating, pleasurable and occupied by people who are caring and supportive. Intervention and support programs should be preceded or accompanied by the achievement of these elements. Indeed, the presence of optimal physiological and environmental conditions can be the dominant factor in the accomplishment or facilitation of intervention and support objectives.

2. Families represent the most significant resource and the most powerful influence affecting a person's development and well-being. Therefore, programs focused on the needs of children and adults who live in family contexts should emphasize efforts to enhance family interactions and the well-being of the entire family system. Furthermore, because families are typically the most knowledgeable sources regarding the person and the person's social and ecological context, the principal factor in determining appropriate intervention and support programs should be informed family choice.

3. Challenging behaviors (such as self-injury, aggression, stereotypy, and tantrums) that are displayed by some people with autism and related disabilites are addressed most successfully and humanely when an understanding of the behavior's purpose (including its communicative significance) is established through a process of functional assessment. A functional assessment should precede the development and implementation of any program designed to reduce challenging behaviors, and the program should be based on an understanding that is derived from the assessment process.

4. Programs of behavioral intervention and behavioral support should emphasize educational, ecological and antecedent manipulations. It is not justifiable from an ethical or technical perspective to employ aversive procedures. Behavioral interventions and support programs should not include practices that produce pain or tissue damamge, or any immobilization other than brief restraint that is necessary in emerggency (crisis) situtation to protect the person or other people from injury. Furthermore, programs should exclude any procedure that causes a person to be ridiculed, lose dignity, or suffer social humiliation.

Intervention and support programs for people with autism and related disabilities should produce educationally-relevant outcomes and, in particular, the development of observable and functional skills that have demonstrable value in a person's lifestyle. Intervention and support programs should not rely upon unproven treatments that are directed at hypothetical disease constructs or unobservable mechanisms.

6. Intervention and support programs should be developed on an individualized basis and should be based on assessment data, family input, the individual's preferences and a careful consideration of short and long term objectives. Intervention and support programs should not be prescribed on the basis of a diagnosis.

7. Intervention and support programs should be evaluated on the basis of measurable outcomes that are meaningful from the perspective of the person, the person's family, and the person's care and support providers. Meaningful outcomes refer to progress that is manifested as improvement in the way a person lives.

8. Social development is extremely complex, and the capacity to interact in social contexts with competence and comfort is an essential objective for all the people. Progress in the development of social behavior for people with autism and related disabilities requires extensive guidance and experience. Therefore, participation in typical social environments with the individualized assistance and support necessary to achieve succesful interactions, should be a feature of comprehensive educational and support programs for people with autism and related disabilities.