Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Comorbid Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Review of the Research

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are highly comorbid, precipitating an urgent need to identify evidence-based practices that might be used to address this comorbidity exclusively. The aim of this study was to conduct a review of intervention research and clinical reports to examine the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with individuals who have comorbid ASD and OCD. Based on the pre-determined review inclusion criteria, 11 studies were included in the review: three randomized control trials (RCT), one case controlled study, two single subject experimental designs, and five case studies. These studies offer promising data on the use of CBT interventions for individuals with ASD and comorbid OCD as well as for individuals with OCD and comorbid ASD when standard CBT protocol is enhanced with modifications such as parental involvement, increased use of visuals, personalized treatment metaphors, self-monitoring, positive reinforcement, and use of clear language and instructions. Limitations and implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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Correspondence to Leman Kaniturk Kose.

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Preparation of this article was supported, in part, by funding from the National Institutes of Health. Treatment of Anxiety in Autism. 1R01HD080096-01A1.

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Kose, L.K., Fox, L. & Storch, E.A. Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Comorbid Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Review of the Research. J Dev Phys Disabil 30, 69–87 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-017-9559-8

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Keywords

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Modifications
  • Comorbidity
  • Evidence-based practices