Aims and Objectives:
Multiple studies have found parents of children with autism experience high levels of stress and anxiety. This study compared the effectiveness of two stress reduction strategies within a group of parents of children with autism.
Participants included 61 parents of children young children with autism. Researchers assessed stress, depression, anxiety, life satisfaction, and mindfulness at the beginning of the study. Parents were then randomly chosen to receive 12 weeks of a therapist led program by itself or with an additional mindfulness program. The mindfulness program was 6 weeks long and focused on gaining new skills. Researchers re-assessed the same measures halfway through the study, right after the study, and several months after the study.
Both groups showed reduction in stress, depression, and anxiety during the study. Parents who received the mindfulness program showed bigger reduction in stress but showed no significant differences in anxiety, depression, or life satisfaction. The parents who received the mindfulness program showed improved mindfulness. The parents who did not receive the mindfulness program showed worse mindfulness after the study.
This study suggests that low-intensity stress reduction strategies have the potential to reduce parents’ stress and improve their mental health.