The effect of cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT) on the executive functions of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Atoosa Atigh, Mehdi Alizadeh Zarei

DOI: 10.22122/cdj.v7i3.408


BACKGROUND: Executive functions (EF) impairments are considered as central deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT) on EFs of children with high-functioning ASD (HFA).

METHODS: This was a quasi-experimental study with a pretest-posttest design and control group. The study population included all children with HFA referred to the comprehensive Arman Shayan Rehabilitation Center in Tehran, Iran. Using the high-functioning Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) and clinical diagnostic interviews by two clinical psychologists, 24 children with HFA were selected purposefully and were randomly assigned to experimental or control groups. Subjects in both groups completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) in pretest and posttest. The experimental group received 1-2 sessions (1 hour) per week of CRT for 6 months. Data analysis was performed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) in SPSS.

RESULTS: Data analysis showed that the use of CRT resulted in a significant difference between groups in terms of the total EFs score, which was 88.5%, as well as the components of inhibition (57%), orientation (46%), emotional control (42%), initiate (43%), working memory (55%), planning (56%), organizing (36%),and monitoring (36%).

CONCLUSION: CRT, as an evidence-based intervention, seems to be effective in improving neuropsychological functions in children with HFA.


Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy; Executive Function; High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

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