CURRENT STUDIES

The Perspectives Program

Research Intervention for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Shaun Eack, PhD – University of Pittsburgh

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) was developed in the 1990’s by Professor G.E. Hogarty for the treatment of social and non-social cognitive impairments in schizophrenia. The positive findings of CET in schizophrenia led the investigators and other researchers to consider the potential applicability of the intervention to other disorders that are characterized by core deficits in information processing and social cognition. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) were viewed as primary candidates due to their chronic and debilitating nature, the presence of pervasive impairments in social cognition and the lack of available interventions for adults with ASD. In 2009, CET investigators began collaborating with University of Pittsburgh CeFAR director, Dr. Nancy Minshew to adapt and conduct the initial feasibility studies of CET in ASD. An ongoing randomized-controlled trial is currently being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh to confirm these findings and establish the evidence base for CET in verbal adults with ASD. This research study is designed to examine the potential benefits of two novel non-drug interventions. Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) and Enriched Supportive Therapy (EST), in the treatment of adults with autism spectrum disorders.

CET is a comprehensive rehabilitation intervention designed to improve the social and non-social cognitive impairments. The treatment integrates computer-based cognitive exercises in attention, memory and problem-solving with social-cognitive group training designed to improve perspective-taking, social context appraisal, emotion perception and management, and other key aspects of social cognition.

EST is an individual supportive therapy approach that helps adults learn about their condition, manage their emotions and stress, improve their social skills and cope with everyday problems. Participants will learn about the impact of stress on their lives, and how to idetify their own early cues od distress and apply effective coping strategies.

Eligible participants will be randomly selected for either CET or EST and treated for 18 months with weekly visits to the University of Pittsburgh. Cognitive, behavioral and neurobiological measures are collected to examine the efficacy of the two approaches in the treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The Perspectives Program is currently accepting individuals between 16-45 years old with an IQ > 80.

Contact 1-866-647-3436 or autismrecruiter@upmc.edu for additional information or to schedule.

Webster Hall, Suite 300, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 • Toll Free 1-866-647-3436 • Phone 412-246-5485 • Fax 412-246-547
All Inquiries including Dr. Minshew: autismrecruiter@upmc.edu
© 2006 CeFAR at the University of Pittsburgh