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The University of Southampton

CBT under the spotlight at international Asperger’s conference

Published: 15 May 2008

The effectiveness of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) as an intervention for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome comes under scrutiny at an international conference, hosted by the University of Southampton.

There have been various claims for CBT as an intervention for people with autism spectrum disorders, to help individuals change how they think, how they feel and what they do.

During the three-day inter-professional conference, ‘Asperger’s Syndrome and CBT: Barriers to Clinical Efficacy’, speakers and delegates from around the world will examine how CBT is applied to a range of problems experienced by adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a neuro-genetic disorder on the Autism Spectrum: the word 'spectrum' is used because, while all people with autism share three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways.

One of the keynote speakers, Dr Valerie Gaus, a cognitive-behavioural therapist from New York and advisory board member of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, will debate whether CBT is effective for addressing the core problems of Asperger’s Syndrome and the challenges it presents in daily life, relationships, and the workplace.

At the launch of a £500,000 government project last week to calculate the number of adults with autism in England, Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis said autistic adults are too often abandoned by health and social services and highlighted how limited the understanding of the condition still is.

Conference co-ordinator, Dr Tony Brown, a consultant clinical psychologist from the University of Southampton and Clinical Director of the Autism Diagnostic Research Centre (ADRC), comments:

“This conference has been designed to meet the current agenda of individual’s rights and clinical effectiveness for adults who are believed to have Asperger’s Syndrome or higher functioning autism. I hope it will lead to a wider discussion about the way the needs of adults with autism are met.”

The ADRC, which has just moved to its new premises in Rose Road, was established by the University of Southampton to offer an assessment and diagnostic service for an estimated 100,000 undiagnosed adults in the UK. It brings together a range of clinical specialisms to provide data and information to help identify an individual’s specific characteristics. It will identify a person’s strengths, as well as any deficits, in order to generate a report that will help that individual better understand their own condition, and others understand the conditions necessary for habilitation. This in turn will enable those with a diagnosis to live more engaged, productive, and fulfilling lives.

The conference takes place from 27 to 29 May at the Nuffield Theatre, University of Southampton. For more information, please visit:

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