New research from York University’s Faculty of Health shows cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help children with autism manage not only anxiety but other emotional challenges, such as sadness and anger.
Led by Jonathan Weiss, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research, the study shows CBT can lead to significant improvements in children’s emotional regulation. It also shows – for the first time – that CBT can improve more than just anxiety.
This is the first transdiagnostic CBT trial for children with autism, employing a randomized controlled trial.
Approximately 70 per cent of children with autism will struggle with some form of emotional challenge. About half of these children will struggle with anxiety and another 25 to 40 per cent will struggle with other emotional challenges such as anger or depression. In fact, there is a high co-occurrence among these conditions.
“We can use this same intervention to improve children’s skills more broadly regardless of what emotional challenge they have,” says Weiss. “We can make them more resilient to many emotional and mental health issues.”
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