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Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Help Children with Autism

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is similar to talk therapy, often called psychotherapy. Counseling sessions are conducted in a limited number with a mental health counselor, psychotherapist, or a normal therapist in a useful way. This therapy helps individuals to be mindful of negative or inaccurate thinking, and to encounter challenging situations so that they can be dealt with more effectively. CBT is a very supportive therapy that can either be used singularly or with a combination of other therapies to treat complications like eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression. Moreover, CBT does not need to be only used for people with deficiencies – it is an effective tool for anyone who wishes to manage stressful life situations. 

Why is CBT important for autistic children?

CBT is widely used for a range of issues. It helps to identify challenges and suggests ways in which they can be minimized or eliminated. Usually, it is done in a structured way with fewer therapy sessions as compared to other types of therapies. It is an effective tool to handle emotional challenges. Some of the ways in which it can assist are mentioned below:

  • Helps take control of symptoms of mental illness 
  • Prevents further deterioration of mental illness symptoms
  • Teaches techniques for dealing with stressful life situations
  • Helps identify methods to manage emotions
  • Improves communication and helps to resolve conflicts 
  • Teaches how to cope with loss or grief 

Some of the disorders that can be improved with CBT are as follows: 

  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Phobias
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders

According to research by way of improving autism treatments in UAE, CBT can sometimes prove to be more effective when combined with other treatments or medications.

CBT in autism

CBT, a type of ABA therapy, helps to teach youngsters skills with relevance to their behavioral symptoms under Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), so as to replace negative thinking with optimistic and adaptive thinking. It makes patients adapt to the environment in a better way and improves their ability to respond to different situations that may cause anxiety. Researchers of meta analyses and several systematic reviews analyzed the impact of CBT on autistic patients. According to the study of Spreckley and Boyd, applied behavioral intervention improved the symptoms of children with ASD. Sukhodolsky et al conducted a research on high-functioning autistic children who were suffering from anxiety, and came up with the conclusion that children who received CBT exhibited improved ratings from parents and clinicians as compared to the ones who were still waiting for the treatment. Likewise, Ung et al found that CBT showed visible effectiveness in minimizing the anxiety symptoms in high functioning people with ASD. 

Drawbacks of CBT

Generally, CBT displays little risk when receiving the therapy, but you may feel uncomfortable emotionally at times. This is particularly because CBT requires you to demonstrate painful feelings, experiences or emotions. For a CBT session, there is a possibility that you may cry, feel angry, upset or physically drained. Some types of CBT – for instance, exposure therapy – demands to confront situations that one would rather avoid. To elaborate with an example, one can be asked about airplanes if a fear of flying exists, which can often lead to temporary anxiety or stress. However, if you are working with a skilled therapist, it would considerably minimize the risks. Moreover, the coping skills that are taught during the session can help to manage negative feelings or any sort of fear. 

Improved CBT sessions are arranged by organizations like Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE to ease the tensions of both autistic children and parents that are related to a particular fear. It helps to teach children how to cope with problematic behaviors or situations that may arise. CBT, a type of behavior therapy, aids in relieving stress and boosts the confidence level in an autistic individual. Moreover, the therapy sessions must be carefully designed to ensure that the results yielded are positive.   

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