Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work for Autism?

Discussion in 'Sensory, Congitive & Communication' started by autismchamp, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. autismchamp

    autismchamp Proud Member of the Autism Community

    My wife did this training for her depression a while ago and it was based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She learned a lot of great techniques on how to train her thinking and responses to be able to handle things better based on her thought life.

    It was like a 10-week group training. Since then she has been so much better and it’s like changed her life.

    Our son who is 15 has Autism and although he doesn’t seem to struggle with depression like she does, he seems to be lost in his own thoughts a lot and doesn’t feel much. He gets really angry easily, or at least seems to because he is not very verbal, although he understands a lot.

    He refuses to obey us and when he doesn’t get his way he starts tearing things off the walls and grunts and yells. I don’t really know if it can be used at all but does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy help people diagnosed with Autism at all?

    Can it be helpful for my son? I really would love to find something that will work for him as much as my wife has been helped.
  2. theCounsellor

    theCounsellor Developmental Therapist

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be helpful for some people with ASD, though it is known to be more beneficial for people with depression, like your wife. If your son has high anxiety level or unreasonable apprehensions, it can definitely be helpful. Though it can help some people with ASD either way.


    This form of therapy is used to help people regulate their emotions, control their impulses more, and therefore help improve their behaviors. CBT has a successful track record when it comes to helping people make alterations to the way they thing or perceive something.

    The goal is to help change an individual’s thought process in a way that helps them become familiar with and manage certain feelings that they encounter on a day to day basis. This will then help to reduce challenging behaviors such as interrupting others, obsessing over particular things or having obsessive thought patterns, or angry outbursts.

    It is different from regular common therapy techniques in a sense that it works on changing the thought process i.e. targeting the root cause rather than subdue or improve the symptoms.

    It is also commonly individualized for each patient so it can target specific challenges and behaviors and thereby help to stabilize those behavioral patterns.

    I don’t know enough about your son and his behaviors to make a great assessment as to how well Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would work for him. I think it could be potentially quite effective with him given what you have mentioned as long as his understanding and comprehension is greater than his verbal abilities.

    CBT is of course done differently with those with Autism than those with just depression, like your wife. In particular it is more difficult to deliver treatment in a group setting with people on Autism Spectrum.

    It would more likely be done with your son in one-on-one sessions, or possibly within your family context in order to best support him and his individual treatment plan. It structured in a format that is specific to his unique challenges and behaviors.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  3. ashishb01

    ashishb01 Webmaster & Founder Member of DW Autism Staff Member

    We have a detailed post on Cognitive Disabilities in Autism and what it means from a Cognitive needs perspective. The chapter also focuses on specific case studies where children with Autism have greatly benefited from Cognitive behavioral therapies.
  4. DorothyWitherell

    DorothyWitherell New Member

    Thanks for sharing detailed information about CBT.

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