Date of Award
Anxiety is one of the most common and debilitating conditions co-occurring with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as it occurs in up to 84% of individuals and can influence poor psychosocial adjustment, disruptions in individual, familial and school functioning, increased emotional and behavioral problems, self-injurious behavior(s), and an overall reduced quality of life (Meyer, Mundy, Van Hecke, & Durocher, 2006; Nadeau et al., 2011; Farrugia & Hudson, 2006; Kerns et al., 2015). To date, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), an evidence-based treatment for anxiety in neurotypical youth, has seen modest, yet limited, promise in treating anxiety in youth with ASD. With extant research lacking consistency, replication, and focus on the unique barriers impacting treatment in the ASD population, this study examines clinical experiences in conducting CBT for anxiety in these youths in hopes of identifying treatment limitations and modifications in need of future study (Selles & Storch, 2013; Vasa et al., 2014; Chalfant et al., 2007, Wood et al., 2009). Results indicate that the most common treatment barriers in this population include: (a) the severity and associated impairment of the anxiety, (b) the limited interpersonal, cognitive, perspective-taking, and executive functioning skills of the youth themselves, (c) the youth’s cognitive and behavioral rigidity, (d) a dysfunctional home environment, (e) lack of youth motivation for treatment, and (f) the time constraints associated with treating this population.
Kirkland, Michelle M., "COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY FOR ANXIETY IN YOUTH WITH AUTISM: PAVING THE WAY TO EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 329.