Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at School Eases Anxiety
By Chelsea E. Toledo, M.A. on August 2, 2016
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by differences in communication and social behavior. Other symptoms, including anxiety, frequently accompany ASD. Researchers have estimated that as many as 40 percent of children with ASD had also been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. How best to treat anxiety with ASD is an area of ongoing research.
What’s New: A new study explores the effectiveness of a school-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on adolescents with both ASD and anxiety. Researchers assigned 35 children between the ages of 11 and 14 either to a waitlist group (control) or to receive weekly therapy sessions of 90 min each for six weeks. The treatment included Exploring Feelings, a workbook-based program analyzing the range of human emotions through CBT. They found that the 18 participants who received the intervention showed improvement in anxiety symptoms - as reported by parents, teachers and through self-evaluations - as well as marginal improvements in social responsiveness at school.
Why it’s important: This study suggests that CBT delivered at school can be beneficial in easing the anxiety that children with ASD face when attending mainstream schools. This is important because some studies show that less anxiety at school leads to improved outcomes for children with ASD.
 Anna Merrill. Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Indiana Resource Center for Autism. Accessed July 31, 2016. https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/anxiety-and-autism-spectrum-disorders.
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