Research by Greek academic Dr Haris Karnezi in collaboration with Dr Kevin Tierney of Trinity College Dublin has been declared groundbreaking in helping children with autism overcome their fears.
Research that promotes the use of interactive fairy tales in the treatment process has highlighted a case in which the Cognitive Behavior Drama (CBD) model developed by Dr. Karnezi was used to help a six-year-old boy with autism to gradually overcome a “fear-causing stimulus” and that led to the complete elimination of his fear-related symptoms. The treatment effects were maintained for a year after the researchers’ initial intervention.
The study results, which were published in the Practice Innovation Journal of the American Psychological Association, confirmed previous findings about the effectiveness of the CBD model in addressing fears in high-functioning autistic children. The study, an interdisciplinary study combining the science of psychology with the drama form could lead therapists to help children overcome their limitations.
The study was developed to overcome challenges in dealing with fears in young children and children with developmental disabilities, namely their resistance to therapy. He used dramatic metaphors and engaged children in exciting fictional scenarios that were designed around their strengths and interests. In this way, the researchers were able to gradually give the children the motivation and self-confidence to face their fears.
It also provided them with the opportunity to take a different approach to their actual attitudes by using the dramatic context (of seeing themselves as a hero) to prevent them from repeating past dysfunctional behavior in relation to the object of fear.
One of the world’s leading autism spectrum disorder experts, Brisbane-based Professor Tony Attwood, said the secret of the CBD model was that it was not seen as therapy by children, but it piqued their interest: – established theoretical models, it is presented in such an attractive way, which captures the interest of children, who are delighted to follow it,” said Professor Attwood.