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J Autism Dev Disord. 2017 Dec;47(12):3883-3895. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2801-x.

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

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Kent Educational Psychology Service, Kroner House, Eurogate Business Park, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8XU, UK.
UCL Institute of Education, London, UK.
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College, London, UK.


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; Coping behaviours; Mixed methods; Schools based interventions

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