Stress in mothers of children with autism

Conner, C. M., & White, S. W. (2014). Stress in mothers of children with autism: Trait mindfulness as a protective factor. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(6), 617-624. Abstract.

Mindfulness-based interventions may reduce parents’ stress and improve parent–child relationships. Given the chronic nature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its influence on parents’ stress, interventions to promote mindfulness may be especially helpful for parents of children with ASD.

Prior to undertaking intervention development, it is first necessary to establish the relationship between mindfulness and stress, as other factors like child behavioral difficulties may overshadow the mother’s regulation strategies. In a sample of mothers of children with ASD (n = 67) and a comparison sample of mothers without ASD (n = 87), mindfulness was significantly associated with the level of maternal stress above and beyond child behavior problems.

Results suggest that interventions to promote mindfulness may be helpful in reducing parenting stress among mothers of children with ASD, as well as mothers of typically developing children. Due to the chronic nature of ASD, such interventions may be particularly applicable.