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      Cognitive behaviour therapy for social anxiety in autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          Individuals who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD) commonly experience anxiety about social interaction and social situations. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a recommended treatment for social anxiety (SA) in the non-ASD population. Therapy typically comprises cognitive interventions, imagery-based work and for some individuals, behavioural interventions. Whether these are useful for the ASD population is unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to undertake a systematic review to summarise research about CBT for SA in ASD.

          Design/methodology/approach

          Using a priori criteria, the authors searched for English-language peer-reviewed empirical studies in five databases. The search yielded 1,364 results. Titles, abstracts, and relevant publications were independently screened by two reviewers.

          Findings

          Four single case studies met the review inclusion criteria; data were synthesised narratively. Participants (three adults and one child) were diagnosed with ASD and SA. There were commonalities in interventions and techniques used: participants were encouraged to identify and challenge negative thoughts, enter anxiety-provoking social situations, and develop new ways of coping. Unlike CBT for SA in non-ASD individuals, treatment also included social skills interventions. Outcomes were assessed using self- or informant-reports. Improvements in SA, depressive symptoms, social skills, and activity levels were noted. Generalisability of results is hampered, however, by the small number of studies and participants and lack of randomised controlled trial conditions employed.

          Research limitations/implications

          Future studies should investigate how beliefs and behaviours indicative of SA can be ameliorated in individuals with ASD.

          Originality/value

          This is the first review to synthesise empirical data about CBT for SA in ASD.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Executive dysfunction in autism☆

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            An empirically derived inventory to measure social fears and anxiety: The Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory.

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              Reliability and validity of the revised fear survey schedule for children (FSSC-R)

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                AIA
                10.1108/AIA
                Advances in Autism
                AIA
                Emerald Publishing
                2056-3868
                03 January 2017
                : 3
                : 1
                : 34-46
                Affiliations
                Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London , London, UK
                King’s College London , London, UK
                London, UK
                Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London , London, UK
                Author notes
                Debbie Spain can be contacted at: debbie.spain@kcl.ac.uk
                Article
                589197 AIA-07-2016-0020.pdf AIA-07-2016-0020
                10.1108/AIA-07-2016-0020
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 44, Pages: 13, Words: 5287
                Product
                Categories
                e-literature-review, Literature review
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata
                yes
                yes
                JOURNAL
                included

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