The Role of CBT in Helping Children with ASD Cope with Mental Health Issues

There are numerous ways to work with children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and one promising technique involves the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). 

 

CBT has been used for many years to treat various mental health issues, but in recent years it has proven useful for treating people of various ages with ASD and comorbid mental health concerns. Here is a brief overview of CBT and how it may be applied when working with individuals with ASD.  

What is CBT?  

CBT is an approach to therapy that focuses on changing the way we think about the things that happen to us. For example, a person with depression may feel negative about themselves because of a tendency toward certain thinking patterns (e.g. only attending to negative events that occur or interpreting neutral events as negative), rather than taking a more balanced view. CBT would seek to alter that type of thought pattern by teaching the person to recognize their own maladaptive cognitive tendencies and to develop alternative patterns of thinking and behaviors that support that individual’s mental health in a more balanced way.  

How can CBT be used to treat ASD?  

Recent studies have shown that many children who have ASD, also have the ability to recognize their own thought patterns and change them. Therapists have adapted CBT techniques in order to make them more suitable for individuals with ASD. For example, most children who have ASD learn more effectively from images that are concrete and visible, rather than abstract concepts. In addition, CBT can also be effective when it is delivered in a group setting, as children may benefit from the social reinforcement they get from this experience. Finally, CBT has proven valuable in treating anxiety, which many individuals with ASD also experience.  

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