For adults with autism spectrum disorder, cognitive
enhancement therapy (CET) is associated with significant differential increases
in neurocognitive function relative to enriched supportive therapy (EST) and
increased likelihood of gaining competitive employment, according to a study
published recently in Autism Research.

Shaun M. Eack, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and
colleagues examined the efficacy of CET for improving core cognitive and
employment outcomes in adult autism. Fifty-four verbal adult outpatients with
autism spectrum disorder were randomised to an 18-month trial of CET, which
integrates computer-based neurocognitive training with group-based training in
social cognition, or an active EST comparison focused on psychoeducation and
condition management. Composite indexes of neurocognitive and social-cognitive
change were primary outcomes.

The researchers found that in intent-to-treat analyses,
relative to EST, CET produced significant differential increases in
neurocognitive function. Large social-cognitive improvements were seen in
association with CET and EST, with an advantage at nine months, but not at 18
months, for CET. CET-treated participants were significantly more likely to
gain competitive employment than those in EST (odds ratio, 6.21), which was
mediated by cognitive improvement.

“CET is a feasible and potentially effective treatment
for core cognitive deficits in adult autism spectrum disorder,” the
authors write. “The treatment of cognitive impairments in this population
can contribute to meaningful improvements in adult outcomes.”


Reference: Eack
SM, et al. Cognitive enhancement therapy for adult autism spectrum disorder:
Results of an 18-month randomized clinical trial. Autism Research. Published 29 December 2017.