Telehealth and autism: A systematic search and review of the literature
R Sutherland, D Trembath, J Roberts
Purpose: Research interest in telehealth and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has grown. There is a need to review the literature to allow speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other service providers to consider applicability to their settings. The aim of this review was to examine the nature and outcomes of studies examining telehealth assessment and/or intervention in ASD.
Method: A systematic search of the literature was undertaken, with 14 studies meeting inclusion criteria. The authors extracted information from each included article, including participant characteristics, technology used, measures and reported outcomes. Quality review of articles was undertaken.
Result: The 284 participants with ASD across the 14 included studies ranged in age from 19 months to adulthood. The quality of the studies varied. A range of services were provided via telehealth, including diagnostic assessments, early intervention and language therapy. Results suggested that services delivered via telehealth were equivalent to services delivered face to face, and superior to comparison groups without telehealth sessions.
Conclusion: The findings suggest there may be a range of benefits in using telehealth with individuals with ASD, their families, and teachers. Further research, however, is required particularly regarding the use of telehealth directly with children with ASD for assessment and intervention.