The Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Psychological Wellbeing in Mothers of Children with ASD: A PILOT Study
Objectives: This study examines the effectiveness of mindfulness practice on self-esteem, self-efficacy, psychological wellbeing, parenting stress, and life satisfaction among mothers of children with ASD. We also set out to examine group differences across mothers participating in three groups: (1) a mindfulness practice intervention, (2) a discussion-based intervention, and (3) no-intervention controls.
Methods: Twenty-seven mothers were assigned to groups: mindfulness (n = 11), discussion-based (n = 6), or control (n = 10). Mothers in the mindfulness and discussion-based groups attended 8 weekly sessions for 90 minutes. Mindfulness intervention focused on breath counting, seated meditation, body scans, and loving-kindness practice. The discussion-based group served as a comparison for the mindfulness group, focusing on discussions about parenting children with ASD. Controls received no intervention during the 8-week period. All participants completed the following pre- and post-intervention measures: Rosenberg self-esteem scale, Generalized Self-Efficacy scale, Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-being, Parental Stress scale, and Satisfaction with Life scale. In addition, individuals in the mindfulness and support groups participated in focus group interviews after the 8-week intervention.
Results: Z scores were computed for pre-posttest comparisons. The results suggest significant differences from pre- to post-intervention for the mindfulness group on perceived: satisfaction with life, self-esteem, self-efficacy, psychological wellbeing and subscales of autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations, and purpose in life. There were no significant results for the discussion-based and control groups (with the exception of the purpose in life subscale for controls). No significant results were found for parental stress. Results from qualitative focus groups provide support for the pre-post test comparisons. These results suggest that while the subjective experience of parenting stress was not significantly affected by the intervention, participants in the mindfulness group developed considerable acceptance of their life circumstances, as well as practical tools to cope with the uncertainties of stressful parenting.
Conclusions: Findings support the utility of mindfulness practice for increasing aspects of psychological wellbeing. Perceptions of parental stress did not decrease. Mothers of children with ASD can benefit from low cost, non-medical, and readily accessible mindfulness programs.