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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Autism Ranking: Very strong positive evidence

Future Research

Summary of Existing Research

  • There is a reasonable amount of high quality research evidence to suggest that cognitive behavioural therapy may be effective in reducing anxiety in some children and adolescents on the autism spectrum who have an IQ of 70 or greater.
  • There is one very high quality research study which suggests that CBT, when used in conjunction with the drug melatonin, may increase the speed with which some children on the autism spectrum fall asleep.
  • There is insufficient evidence to determine if cognitive behavioural therapy is effective in reducing anxiety in other groups on the autism spectrum, such as adults or children and adolescents with an IQ of less than 70.
  • There is insufficient evidence to determine if cognitive behavioural therapy is effective in helping with other problems, such as depression, in anyone on the autism spectrum

Recommendations for Future Research

Future research studies should

  • Determine if cognitive behavioural therapy can help other groups on the autism spectrum (such as those with a verbal IQ of less than 70) with anxiety.
  • Determine if cognitive behavioural therapy can help anyone on the autism spectrum with other issues, such as anger or depression.
  • Evaluate the individual components of CBT programmes to see which, if any, are the most effective.
  • Compare CBT with other psychotherapeutic approaches, such as mindfulness training or counselling.
  • Evaluate the longer term effects of CBT in real world settings such as homes, schools and the workplace.
  • Be more rigorous in the reporting of issues such as comorbidities and concomitant treatments.
  • Using a range of appropriate measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy (such as standardised assessment measures of anxiety that researchers understand alongside personalised assessment measures of anxiety that the participants understand).
  • Involve people on the autism spectrum to review the efficacy and ethical basis of CBT including individuals who may be non-verbal.
Updated
31 Oct 2017
Last Review
01 Mar 2017
Next Review
01 Mar 2020