Cognitive Distortion Thought Bubbles--Simple Cognitive Behavioral Method for kids with High Functioning Autism

Cognitive behavioral therapy method for children with Asperger's and autism spectrum disorders

These are pre-written thought bubbles. You use them to help kids with ASD to sort out the thoughts that lead to upsetting emotions. Downloads for dozens of these thought bubbles are at the bottom of this post. Scroll down and have a look.

To download the cognitive distortion thought bubbles, click on THIS LINK HERE.

For a short YouTube video explaining this resource, click HERE.

Here I describe a simple method to help children with Asperger’s and other autism spectrum disorders to increase awareness of problem thoughts and beliefs. ( Please start by reviewing an earlier post which introduces cognitive behavioral therapy CBT helps people to identify and modify the dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs that adversely affect emotions and behavior.) By introducing appealing visual components to CBT, you can make it much more engaging and effective for children with autism spectrum disorders, who are often “visual learners.”  I have many other free CBT activities you should check out, HERE.

How to make the Poison and Antidote Thought Bubbles:

Click on this link HERE to take you to the download page.  When you print out the thought bubbles – there are several dozen of them – I suggest you laminate them if you can.  Color printing works best.

Various ways to use the CBT thought bubbles:

Once you have introduced the concept of Poison Thoughts and Antidote Thoughts you can use them in a variety of ways.  For example:

1.  Make a “Poison Thought Game.” Scatter the thought bubbles in a jumble all over the floor. Say something like this: “We’re going to do a kind of matching game.  These red thought bubbles are different kinds of thoughts that make people upset. The green ones help to fight the red ones.  See if you can find green ones to match up with each of the red ones.”  There are some Antidote Thought bubbles that match more than one Poison Thought; this does not have to be exact.

2.  Play “Hunt for your Poison Thoughts.” Say something like: “Each person has certain Poison Thoughts that bother them more than other ones.  Which ones bother you the most?  Which Antidote Thoughts do you need to fight them?”  You can do this activity by either scattering the thought bubbles around the floor, or taping them up to a wall, or else by holding them up one at a time in sequence for the child/ children to look at.

3. Fill out the blank thought bubbles. The pre-written thought bubbles cover many of the most common problem thoughts and beliefs affecting children with Asperger’s and other autism spectrum disorders.  I provided blank thought bubbles to allow kids to customize their Poison and Antidote thoughts.  I suggest that you print out a lot of these blank ones on paper and keep them handy to help children sort out their problem thoughts.  I find that having these thought bubbles in large format often works better than having kids write small on conventional CBT thought record sheets.

To check out a number of other free CBT resources for children on the autism spectrum, follow THIS LINK HERE.

Joel Shaul, LCSW

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