Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 3883–3895 | Cite as

School based cognitive behavioural therapy targeting anxiety in children with autistic spectrum disorder: a quasi-experimental randomised controlled trail incorporating a mixed methods approach

  • Chris ClarkeEmail author
  • Vivian Hill
  • Tony Charman
S.I. : Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorders


Children with a diagnosis of autism are more likely to experience anxiety than their typically developing peers. Research suggests that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) could offer a way to help children with autism manage their anxiety but most evidence is based on clinical trials. This study investigated a school-based CBT programme using a quasi-experimental design incorporating the child and parent versions of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (Spence, J Abnorm Psy 106(2):280–297, 1997) and the Coping Scale for Children and Youth (Brodzinsky et al., J Appl Dev Psychol 13:195–214, 1992). Interview data was incorporated to help understand the process of change further. Children in the experimental condition had lower levels of anxiety, maintained at follow-up and changes were found in coping behaviours such as lower behavioural avoidance strategies but increased problem solving strategies at follow-up. Limitations of the research together with future directions are also discussed.


Autism Cognitive behavioural therapy Schools based interventions Coping behaviours Mixed methods 


Author Contributions

CC conceived the study and participated in the design and coordination of the study and performed the measurement, statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. VH supported the conception and design of the study and analysis of qualitative data. TC supported the design and analysis. All authors contributed to the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kent Educational Psychology ServiceKentUK
  2. 2.UCL Institute of EducationLondonUK
  3. 3.Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKings CollegeLondonUK

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