Mental health is one of the main concerns of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The National Autistic Society of the UK estimates, in fact, that anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression are more common among people on the autism spectrum.
About 40% of individuals with ASD exhibit symptoms of at least one anxiety disorder, compared to about 15% of the entire population. As a result, people with ASD are more prone to meltdowns, outbursts, obsessions, and distractions.
ABC Pediatrics highly recommends Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help kids with ASD manage the condition. Let us walk you through the basics of CBT, how it can regulate your child’s emotions, and how it can give him or her a more positive outlook.
What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that changes the way patients think, feel, and behave so they can manage problems better.
It works on the assumption that thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected. When patients take in an external stimulus, they give it their own meanings, feel a certain emotion, and respond accordingly.
Unhelpful Patterns of Thinking
Some people get stuck in unhelpful or unrealistic thinking patterns. These thoughts and feelings then result in unhelpful actions like meltdowns or outbursts.
CBT amends these patterns by modifying the distorted thoughts and feelings patients have about themselves and their lives. Therapists help them change the way they interpret, feel about, and respond to various situations.
Patients get to learn new, more beneficial patterns of thinking during distressing situations and have a more enthusiastic perspective on life.
A CBT Session
For the therapy to be effective, CBT therapists often employ a structured, time-limited, goal-oriented approach. During the sessions, the therapists break down the patient’s situation into separate parts (thoughts, feelings, and actions) and determine if they’re unrealistic or unhelpful.
They also identify their effects on the patients. Then, they help the patients replace unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with positive and helpful ones.
Adjusting CBT for Kids with ASD
Children with ASD are just as capable as any kid of undergoing CBT. Researchers, however, need to make the therapy more ASD-friendly to increase its scope.
So, therapists made the sessions more repetitive, visual, and concrete. For instance, therapists ask kids to illustrate their anxiety level through a thermometer instead of asking them to rate it from 1 to 10. Therapists also focus on the children’s talents and abilities to keep them engaged and motivated.
So far, the results have been promising. Research shows that CBT helped children with ASD reduce anxiety symptoms, lessen anger episodes, develop impulse control, and improve their behavior. Beyond mental health, the therapy also helped them accomplish daily tasks with ease.
Creating Stability in the Lives of Kids with ASD
Children with ASD have a unique set of symptoms, behaviors, and patterns of thinking. ABC Pediatrics takes all of these into account in our Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
Our CBT sessions focus on helping children regulate their emotions, impulses, and anxiety. Our highly trained and compassionate therapists help the kids reduce meltdowns, outbursts, and obsessions and help them healthily perceive life.
If you’re interested in CBT for your child, contact our therapists today.