Project Detail
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Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Adapting cognitive enhancement therapy for ASD  

Few interventions are available for adults with ASD; as a consequence, many verbal adults with ASD experience substantial lifetime disability. This study will adapt and carry out preliminarily testing of the efficacy of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) for young transitional age high functioning adults with ASD to improve adaptive functioning and adult life achievement in this population. CET is a neurodevelopmentally-based, social-cognitive, and neurocognitive rehabilitation program originally developed for schizophrenia that has demonstrated significant improvements in cognition and important functional outcomes. Many of the social, communication, and cognitive impairments experienced by persons with ASD are also shared by individuals with schizophrenia. These impairments are directly targeted by CET, suggesting that CET may confer substantial benefits to verbal individuals with ASD who often do poorly as adults and for whom few interventions exist. In the first phase of this project (covered by this proposal), adaptations to the CET treatment reflecting the uniqueness of autism will be made through the development of a supplement to the existing CET treatment manual. Clinical experts in autism and schizophrenia will collaborate to adapt CET, and then conduct an uncontrolled pilot study of these adaptations with 12 young adults with ASD to demonstrate feasibility, identify the need for additional adaptations, and provide an initial evaluation of the potential social-emotional and cognitive effects of the approach. In the second phase, a small-scale randomized trial with 55 young adults with ASD will be conducted to obtain initial efficacy data on a broad range of cognitive, functional, and neurobiological outcomes to support the feasibility of a larger and more definitive trial of CET for ASD. The combined phases will result in the completion of the first rigorous clinical trial of a proven cognitive rehabilitation approach with verbal adults with ASD. If successful, this project will result in a major step forward in available interventions for adults with ASD. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $205,785.00
Current Award Period 2009-2011
Project Number 5R21MH085851-02
Principal Investigator Minshew, Nancy
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 4: Which Treatments And Interventions Will Help? (Treatments)
Subcategory Behavioral
Strategic Plan Objective 4O. Not specific to Question 4 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University of Pittsburgh
State/Country Pennsylvania
Web Link 1 Adapting cognitive enhancement therapy for ASD (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Adapting cognitive enhancement therapy for ASD | $194,096.00 | 2009 | 1R21MH085851-01