Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 1613–1625 | Cite as

Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Experience of Traumatic Events: Review of the Current Literature to Inform Modifications to a Treatment Model for Children with Autism

  • Alexia StackEmail author
  • Joseph Lucyshyn
Original Paper


Children with autism incur trauma and have increased vulnerabilities for experiencing trauma. This paper summarizes the current literature in the study of trauma in typically developing children and those with autism. A treatment model for children with autism, drawing on components from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), trauma-focused CBT, and CBT to teach emotion regulation and treat anxiety in children with autism is suggested. Components include: (a) Functional Behavior Assessment; (b) behavior plans and behavioral skills training; (c) teaching emotion regulation; (d) exposure therapy; (e) cognitive restructuring; (f) parent and child support between sessions; (g) safety plan; and (h) programming for generalization and maintenance. Future research should establish evidence-based treatment of trauma in this population by evaluating the modified treatment package.


Autism Trauma Treatment of trauma Modified trauma-focused CBT 


Author Contributions

AS conceived of this manuscript, completed a literature review, developed the modified treatment design for a trauma intervention for children with ASD, created the figures, and drafted the manuscript. JL helped draft the manuscript, helped guide the literature review, helped with the design of a treatment model for trauma in children with ASD, and revised figures. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A Block Above Behavioral ConsultingNorth VancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, Faculty of EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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