Autism Spectrum Disorders-Cognitive Behavior Therapy

In among all of the difficulties people with milder forms of ASD depression has to be the very
worst; in fact, the suicide rate among adults with ASD is about 30%! This is much too high and
more needs to be done to help adults affected by ASD to learn to be more proactive and to nip
depression in the bud.
Tony Attwood, a psychologist who is with the Minds and Hearts Clinic in Brisbane, Australia
and his colleague, Michelle Garnett, developed a nifty Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
program called “Exploring Depression” that can also be done by the individual at home.
The book starts out by describing depression and how it interacts with ASD to make life so
miserable. Characteristics such as catastrophic thinking, overgeneralizing, discounting any
positive news or developments, always feeling inadequate and near constant anxiety all form a
noxious brew that’s hard to get rid of. The authors describe the characteristics of Asperger
Syndrome as well, including the positive qualities, such as focus on a special interest, a strong
sense of justice, reliability and punctuality, creative and divergent approaches to problems and
creativity in general.
The program is divided into stages which must be done in the right sequence in order for the
person to truly benefit. Stage 1 is devoted to exploring one’s qualities and abilities, Stage 2 is an
introduction to depression and Stage 3 presents tools for dealing with depression. Subsequent
stages present specific tools including using art and other creative pursuits and tools for physical
activity as studies are now finding a strong correlation between exercise and a healthy brain. The
Thinking Tools help reframe one’s mindset which is often skewed toward the overly negative
and catastrophic thinking followed by Relaxation Tools and a Safety Plan for when the person is
truly feeling suicidal and wants to end it all.
Each chapter has a set of exercises that the reader fills out. It is illustrated with charming
drawings by Colin Thompson; these drawings add a light touch to an otherwise very serious
topic and makes the workbook more enjoyable for the teenager or the young adult to use.
The last part of the book asks the reader to imagine a brighter, happier future which can go a
long way to making one feel better about life. The reader can learn to think in such a way as to
understand that bad things don’t last forever, moving away that heavy stone of depression and
clearing a path for a better and more balanced life. The authors are strong believers in Cognitive
Behavior Therapy and so am I. In milder forms of depression, it is found to be the most effective
tool around, but in more severe forms a combination of CBT and medications is often
recommended. I highly recommend this workbook.

TITLE: Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues: A CBT Self-Help Guide to Understanding
and Coping with Depression in Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD-Level 1)
AUTHORS: Attwood, Tony and Garnett, Michelle
SUBJECT AREA: Autism Spectrum Disorders-Cognitive Behavior Therapy
PUBLISHER: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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