Is Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) a cure for Autism?

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy CET) is a comprehensive and integrated therapy that is used to treat cognitive and psychosocial impairments. It is used for the treatment of a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions like Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), severe depression and some forms of autism. 


What is Included in CET?


CET consists of a combination of medicines, group therapies and computer-based exercises to treat the disorders and conditions. Medicines in CET are used to provide relief from physical problems like body pain, headache, insomnia, etc. Group therapies are used to increase involvement in the group and improve problem-solving skills. Group activities encourage the patients to increase interaction, relate to other people and overcome social impairment. Computer-based exercises are used to increase attention span, learning abilities and memory in patients.


The computer-based exercise consists of a cognitive training module which is developed and designed to improve fundamental cognitive functioning areas. This includes areas of attention, problem-solving, memory, social cognition, and visuospatial tasks. The objective of this exercise is to be able to become a part of other people's cognitive flexibility and taking their perspectives.  Being an integrated treatment, all the therapies and activities complement each other to produce better and faster outcomes. Therefore, Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is one of the more intensive approaches for the treatment of cognitive problems. 


Medication in CET

There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder and there is no prescription medicine to treat it. But a few medications can help with related symptoms like depression, seizures, sleeping disorders , attention and other focus problems. Studies have demonstrated that medication is best when it's combined with group activities and computer exercises. Risperidone (Risperdal) is approved by the FDA for kids with autism spectrum disorder. It is recommended for children somewhere in the range of 5 and 16 years of age to help with problems like irritability. A few doctors will prescribe other medications in specific cases, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-anxiety drugs, or stimulants. However all of these are not FDA-approved for autism spectrum disorder. 


Group Learning and Computer Exercises

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy incorporates computer-based training exercises for sets of affected people in memory, problem-solving and attention with group-based educational programs intended to encourage the improvement of adult social-cognitive achievements. The pair-based neurocognitive instructional meetings are directed by Expert coaches and utilize computer exercises to improve cognition, create vital reasoning and promote positive companion interaction and socialization.


After a few months of neurocognitive training, three to four pairs of participants consolidate to make a social-cognitive group. The social-cognitive group sessions are organized to give auxiliary socialization and experiential learning chances to support members to understand perspectives, enhance emotional and social wisdom. It also promotes gistful reasoning and talking. Each group session contains a psychoeducational chat on a new aspect of social cognition, a cognitive exercise intended to encourage the advancement of social-cognitive capacities and a schoolwork task to stretch out the use of CET to day to day life.


When should CET be given? 


According to studies and research, a CET intervention can be given to children of or above the age of five when they can understand and follow instructions. According to the demonstration of Eack et al., CET interventions are proven to produce long-term beneficial effects to clients with Schizophrenia. The lead author, Prof. Keshavan, states that CET is highly effective when compared to supportive psychotherapy. Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is better in all key domains of social cognition and cognitive function, and its effect lasts for two years. 


CET for Adults with Autism

Adults with autism experience noteworthy disabilities in social and non-social behavior for which not many medicines have been discovered and developed. An 18-month uncontrolled trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) was conducted on 14 verbal adults with an autism spectrum disorder to research its acceptability, feasibility and initial viability in treating impedances. Results showed that CET was fulfilling to members with high treatment participation and retention. Impact on cognitive deficits and social conduct were likewise huge and measurably significant. These discoveries recommend that CET is an acceptable, feasible and potentially effective intervention for remediating the social and non-social cognitive impedances in verbal adults with autism.


How is CET Intervention performed?

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is a psychosocial remediation intervention that intermingles 60 hours of intending to improve attention, problem-solving and memory. The therapy includes 45 social-cognitive and structured group sessions that are developed to enhance abilities such as taking perspectives, emotion regulation activities and social context appraisal. Neurobiological underpinnings of regulated emotions associated with cognitive remediation are examined. 

This examination can yield useful information about the effective usage of neural mechanisms to support the recovery of this population. It leverages basic neural mechanisms to understand the underlying neuropsychiatric conditions. In BUDDHI CLINIC we combine CET with sessions of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) & Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation( tDCS) 

What Makes CET Unique?


Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is one of those treatments that is brain-based. CET requires the involvement of the brain of the client during the entire therapy procedure. Moreover, CET promotes rehabilitation and is a vocational skill-oriented therapy. It makes the client open to social situations and other people. Vocational participation is also required, which eliminates both social challenges as well as the language impairment of the patient. Specific topics are assigned every week, which facilitates the brain of the patient to think of different scenarios and get different ideas. The whole group focuses on the same topic, which increases interaction and discussion possibilities. 


The staff that works with the patients are not referred to as doctors or therapists, but coaches. Therefore, CET feels more like a training program where the coaches give group members several emotional and intellectual problems to solve. The coaches then assess the results and instruct the patients accordingly. CET is a curriculum-based therapy in which the schedule of each week is set. It is a highly structured therapy program where patients are assigned new exercises and activities every week. CET is a theory-based program which focuses a lot on developing and constantly improving the brain functions of the patient.

Since autism is a disorder that is not curable, a therapy that improves the condition of autism patients is most advantageous. Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is one of the widely accepted treatments for autism patients of all age groups. To know more about this form of therapy, reach out to us at Buddhi Clinic and nurture your brain.

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