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Preliminary Efficacy of a Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program for Anxious Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Abstract

Anxiety is a commonly occurring psychiatric concern in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This pilot study examined the preliminary efficacy of a manual-based intervention targeting anxiety and social competence in four adolescents with high-functioning ASD. Anxiety and social functioning were assessed at baseline, midpoint, endpoint, and 6 months following treatment. Treatment consisted of cognitive-behavioral therapy, supplemented with parent education and group social skills training. The treatment program was effective in reducing anxiety in three of the four subjects and improving the social skills in all four subjects. Recommendations for the assessment and treatment of anxiety youth with ASD such as use of self-report measures to complement clinician and parent-reports and adaptations to traditional child-based CBT, are offered.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health [1K01MH079945-01; PI: S. W. White]. The authors acknowledge consultation from the grant’s advisory panel: Matthew Fritz, PhD, Cynthia Johnson, PhD, Connie Kasari, PhD, Ami Klin, PhD, Angela Scarpa, PhD, Michael Southam-Gerow, PhD, as well as Roxann Roberson-Nay, PhD. We also thank the participants in this study and their parents, and acknowledge that part of this work was carried out at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Correspondence to Susan W. White.

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White, S.W., Ollendick, T., Scahill, L. et al. Preliminary Efficacy of a Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program for Anxious Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 1652–1662 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0801-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0801-9

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