The aim of the present research was to increase the understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from a cognitive behavioral perspective. The investigation was made to examine the effect of modified cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) using visualization. Basing our research on Salkovskis’ cognitive model of OCD, the aim was to investigate whether obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in individuals with ASD differs from OCD in patients with OCD alone, and to identify cognitive differences between individuals with a combination of ASD and OCD and a non-clinical control group. Further, to investigate the possibility that the criteria for ADHD, as given on the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS), are overrepresented in sports athletes compared to non-athletes, and that these criteria may be an advantage for athletes’ achievement rather than causing problems for these individuals.
In Study I, therapy was given with modified CBT including visualization. Results showed that modified CBT, resulted in significant reduction in anxiety levels, and behavioral changes in the target behaviors.
In Study II, three groups, individuals with ASD and OCD, individuals with only OCD, and non-clinical controls, were compared. Results showed a significant difference between participants with both ASD and OCD and participants with OCD only.
In Study III, the interest was to examining whether athletes, compared to non-athletes, have more ADHD-like symptoms in the two settings i.e. in school and leisure time/ sport activity and whether the cognitive profile that includes these criteria could be of advantage to their sport performance. The results showed significant differences between the groups and within the athlete’s group, in school and in leisure time/the sports activity, concerning ASRS scores.
One general conclusion from these investigations is that the cognitive profiles of ASD and ADHD need to be recognized and taken into consideration early in the daily life both at home and in school, to reduce the risk of comorbidity.
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