Schema, Emotion, and Behavior Therapy for Children (SEBASTIEN)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) logo

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)




Autism Spectrum Disorder


Behavioral: Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral: Standard Community Treatment

Study type


Funder types



1R01MH094391-01A1 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility


The study is a randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy of individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) relative to a standard community treatment, in youngsters with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The individual CBT program has been tailored over the last five years to the clinical needs of high-functioning youth with ASD.

Full description

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is among the most common childhood developmental disorders. A key goal in the field is the discovery of methods that reduce core autism symptoms. Core autism symptoms include social-cognitive impairments, pragmatic language deficits, and repetitive and rigid behaviors. The core symptoms tend to be stable and resistant to intervention. Most treatments involve group-based social skills training (SST), with limited effects. No treatment for core autism symptoms in school-aged children with ASD meets American Psychological Association guidelines for possible efficacy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) offers a novel approach for addressing core autism symptoms in higher functioning school-age youngsters. Initial results suggest that individual CBT may also be promising for reducing core autism symptoms (Wood et al., 2009b; Drahota, Wood et al., 2011). The treatment is based on a contemporary model of memory retrieval competition, employing strategies for enhancing the retention of adaptive conceptual and behavioral responses and the suppression of idiosyncratic beliefs and behaviors in daily social contexts, emphasizing the use of deep semantic processing to enhance memory retrieval. We are proposing a randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy of individual CBT relative to a standard community treatment in youngsters with ASD.




9 to 13 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Meets research criteria for a diagnosis of autism, based on child scores on the ADI-R and ADOS tests.
  • If taking medication, have maintained a stable dose for 1 month prior to baseline assessment.
  • Between the ages of 9-13 years.
  • The child's teacher consents to participate in the study to play a modest role in helping implement the intervention and facilitate the school observation assessment.

Exclusion criteria

  • IQ less than 85.
  • The child starts taking new medication(s) or current medication dose changes either (a) less than 1 month prior to the diagnostic evaluation, or (b) during the study period.
  • The child is participating in an intensive early intervention program for autism such as applied behavior analysis or floortime.
  • For any reason the child or parents appear unable to participate in the treatment program.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

70 participants in 2 patient groups

Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Experimental group
Behavioral: Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Standard Community Treatment
Active Comparator group
Behavioral: Standard Community Treatment

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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