Applied Behavior Analysis Research:
Anxiety is often associated with autism spectrum disorders, likely leading to increased difficulty with social interactions. Recent research looked at the best treatments for improving social interactions and anxiety for individuals with autism. The findings were published in an article titled Evidence to Practice: Treatment of Anxiety in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The research examined randomized clinical trials and systemic reviews to determine which methods are most effective for treating anxiety in people with autism. The authors drew conclusions based upon analysis from 4 systemic reviews and 2 randomized clinical trials. Their focus was on the best outcomes from the perspective of the individual with autism and their family members.
The authors found that cognitive behavior therapy combined with direct instruction of social skills based on applied behavior analysis (ABA) principles may be most effective for treating anxiety in individuals with high functioning autism. For autism and anxiety also associated with intellectual disability, the researchers found that systematic desensitization may be the best method for treatment of anxiety-related symptoms.
The authors state that treatment methods should focus on social skills. The methods utilized should be concrete, avoiding abstract concepts. They also state that family members should be involved in the process and that reinforcers should be utilized to engage the individual with autism in the cognitive behavior therapy.
The research was published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment in January 2011.
- View Autism Research Abstract on PubMed for Evidence to Practice: Treatment of Anxiety in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- List of Research for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Autism
- More Information on Autism Treatments
- More Resources about Autism