Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Research Article

Enhancing CBT for the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Concurrent Anxiety

Karen M. Szea1 and Jeffrey J. Wooda1 c1

a1 University of California, Los Angeles, USA


Because anxiety and other concurrent psychological problems are common among children with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome, research initiatives have been devoted to the development of efficacious treatments to address the multifaceted needs of youth with this presentation. Emerging research indicates that when carefully adapted to accommodate for the unique needs of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) may be a viable treatment modality. Because inherent features of ASD may compromise the efficacy of traditional CBT, our preliminary work suggests that it may be important to gear intervention efforts towards directly addressing core autism symptoms to promote optimal treatment response. This article describes an evidence-based CBT treatment manual modified and expanded to address core ASD features above and beyond anxiety symptomatology. A case example of a 10-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome is presented with supporting data to illustrate the treatment modifications and their rationale. The positive treatment response attained in this case suggests that an enhanced variant of a standard CBT programme may be an efficacious treatment approach for children with ASD and concurrent anxiety.


c1 Reprint requests to Jeffrey Wood, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Moore Hall, Box 951521, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. E-mail: