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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Brief Report: Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Parent-Reported Autism Symptoms in School-Age Children with High-Functioning Autism

  • Author(s): Wood, Jeffrey J.
  • Drahota, Amy
  • Sze, Karen
  • Dyke, Marilyn
  • Decker, Kelly
  • Fujii, Cori
  • Bahng, Christie
  • Renno, Patricia
  • Hwang, Wei-Chin
  • Spiker, Michael
  • et al.

This pilot study tested the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on parent-reported autism symptoms. Nineteen children with autism spectrum disorders and an anxiety disorder (7–11 years old) were randomly assigned to 16 sessions of CBT or a waitlist condition. The CBT program emphasized in vivo exposure supported by parent training and school consultation to promote social communication and emotion regulation skills. Parents completed a standardized autism symptom checklist at baseline and posttreatment/postwaitlist and 3-month follow-up assessments. CBT outperformed the waitlist condition at posttreatment/postwaitlist on total parent-reported autism symptoms (Cohen’s d effect size = .77). Treatment gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up. Further investigation of this intervention modality with larger samples and broader outcome measures appears to be indicated.

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