Here's a free practice question to help get you
ready for the social work licensing exam:
A social worker provides consultation to a local
preschool program. There's a four-year-old in the program who's
been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The parents ask the
social worker for help addressing their child's developmental
issues. What treatment intervention is MOST likely to be
A. Cognitive Therapy
B. Family Therapy
C. Applied Behavioral Analysis
D. Play Therapy
What's your answer?
Let's walk it through. First off, the question step is
unnecessarily wordy. The question could simply read, What
is the treatment most likely to be helpful to a four-year-old
diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder? The rest of the
details (consultation, preschool program, parents asking) don't
really affect your answer. But you're task as an exam taker is to
pass the exam, not offer literary criticism. Stay focused on your
goal: a PASS sheet and a new social work license. Ignore
distractions like less-than-elegant question form.
What about the answers? Taking them one at a time:
A. Cognitive therapy. CBT is evidence based and helpful for lots
of conditions. You could do pretty well with a "When in doubt,
choose CBT" approach to the exam. This time, it's not the answer.
The child is four. Identifying thoughts, cognitive
distortions, etc. takes a facility with insight and language not
likely to be present here. Moving on…
B. Family therapy. Could work. We don't have details about how
sever the ASD symptoms the child is displaying are. If they're at
all severe, family therapy is not going to be effective. Or, at
least, not the MOST effective.
C. Applied behavioral analysis. If you've worked with ASD kids,
you've probably heard of this. If not, this may be a mystery
treatment. If you're in the latter group, it's worth flagging this
as a possibility. The ASWB doesn't do trick questions or trick
answers. So, anything offered isn't going to be a made-up therapy.
Behavioral treatment? Sounds good. Applied analysis? Could work.
One more to go.
D. Play therapy. Okay, makes more sense than CBT or family
therapy. It's child-centered, not overly verbal. Seems like a
So, we're left with two possibilities to choose from. It's
applied behavioral analysis vs. play therapy. Both seem like
plausible best answers.
How do you choose?
Think of what you know about ASD symptoms. What you've
encountered or heard how people diagnosed with ASD present. For
milder cases, sure, play therapy seems like a good idea. But what
about severe symptoms? Limited communication... Play therapy
doesn't seem like the best fit.
That leaves, for those who've never heard of it, something
called applied behavioral analysis. (Those who have heard of it
know that it's a first-choice treatment with ASD.) Close your
eyes, wince, and hit the button. It's your best guess.
And it's right. Read up about the treatment
here and here.
And now, if you encounter applied behavioral analysis on the
exam, you'll be ready. That's the magic of test prep.
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Happy studying and good luck with the exam!