The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Findings from a Systematic Literature Review of Evidence-Based Practices Used in School Settings to Support Autistic Students with Social Communication Competency.

Maria Dervan, Mary Immaculate College – University of Limerick (Ireland)

Margaret Egan, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick (Ireland)

Emer Ring, Mary Immaculate College - University of Limerick (Ireland)


The primary focus of this study is to identify evidence-based practices (EBPs) that support social communication competency (SCC) for autistic children as social communication is noted as a key learning need in terms of autistic characteristics. To address this learning need, teachers and schools should adopt a proactive approach to the development of SCC to empower the autistic child [1]. Such an approach is considered important as increased communication opportunities in schools are said to help autistic children make sense of language, locate themselves and others, and form friendship communities; such opportunities also predict better outcomes for life-long learning [2]. The appropriate methods recommended for teachers of autistic children should have a research base, with evidence of their effectiveness to show what can foster the best learning outcomes for autistic children, described as EBPs [3]. Despite the promotion of EBPs in special education, there remains a prominent gap in the availability and commitment to reliable implementation of effective EBP models for autistic children [4]. The need for EBPs implemented in real-life educational settings, ones that address core features of autism and promote positive outcomes are seen as imperative [5]. Since the turn of the century, there has been an upsurge in the volume of literature describing EBPs, interventions and strategies for teachers to draw upon when supporting autistic children. The researcher is concerned with exploring such EBPs and undertook a systematic review of literature to ascertain the relevant information. The objective of the systematic review was to analyse current and previous research on school-based interventions designed to increase SCC for autistic children, used by teachers. A systematic review was conducted of all published studies focused on SCC in early school-aged autistic children, based on an established rubric. Conducting a systematic literature review enables ‘education professionals to identify effective interventions and assess trends in research and practice’ [6]. The format, process and findings of the review will be documented in this paper presentation. The outcomes which highlight the key EBPs, researched in schools, will be shared.




Evidence-based practices, Social Communication, Autism, Children



[1] Brock, M.E., Dynia, J.M., Dueker, S.A. and Barczak, M.A. (2020) 'Teacher-reported priorities and practices for students with autism: Characterizing the research-to-practice gap', Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 35(2), 67-78.

[2] O'Síoráin, C.-A., Twomey, M., McGuckin, C. and Shevlin, M. (2021) 'Creating communicative opportunities for autistic children', REACH: Journal of Inclusive Education in Ireland, 34(1).

[3] Conn, C. (2014) Autism and the social world of childhood: a sociocultural perspective on theory and practice, Oxfordshire, England; New York, New York: Routledge.

[4] Boudreau, A.M., Corkum, P., Meko, K. and Smith, I.M. (2015) 'Peer-Mediated Pivotal Response Treatment for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review', Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 30(3), 218-235, available:

[5] Kasari, C. and Smith, T. (2013) 'Interventions in schools for children with autism spectrum disorder: Methods and recommendations', Autism, 17(3), 254-267, available:

[6] King, S., Davidson, K., Chitiyo, A. and Apple, D. (2018) 'Evaluating Article Search and Selection Procedures in Special Education Literature Reviews', Remedial and Special Education, 0741932518813142, available:




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