Original paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 57-67

The Coping Cat Program for Children with Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Rebecca H. McNally KeehnAffiliated withCalifornia School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University Email author 
  • , Alan J. LincolnAffiliated withCalifornia School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International UniversityCenter for Autism Research, Evaluation and Service
  • , Milton Z. BrownAffiliated withCalifornia School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University
  • , Denise A. ChaviraAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of CaliforniaChild and Adolescent Services Research Center, Rady Children’s Hospital

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Abstract

The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate whether a modified version of the Coping Cat program could be effective in reducing anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Twenty-two children (ages 8–14; IQ ≥ 70) with ASD and clinically significant anxiety were randomly assigned to 16 sessions of the Coping Cat program (cognitive-behavioral therapy; CBT) or a 16-week waitlist. Children in the CBT condition evidenced significantly larger reductions in anxiety than those in the waitlist. Treatment gains were largely maintained at two-month follow-up. Results provide preliminary evidence that a modified version of the Coping Cat program may be a feasible and effective program for reducing clinically significant levels of anxiety in children with high-functioning ASD.

Keywords

Cognitive-behavioral therapy Autism spectrum disorder Anxiety disorders Randomized controlled trial