Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-Based Stress Management for High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of an ACT-based stress management for adolescents and adults with high-functioning ASD.
Methods: Study 1: Using a quasi-experimental design we evaluated an adapted ACT-protocol for 28 students with ASD (aged 13–21). Study 2: Using an open trial design the ACT treatment was evaluated for adults (n=10; age range 25-65 years) in an outpatient psychiatric context. Study 3: Using an RCT design we evaluated the ACT treatment for 40 adults with ASD in an outpatient psychiatric context.
Results: Study 1: Levels of stress, hyperactivity, and emotional distress were significantly reduced and pro-social behavior was increased. Study 2: Levels of stress were significantly reduced and quality of life increased. Study 3: Significantly reduced stress and psychiatric symptoms, and increased psychological flexibility and quality of life. Autistic core symptoms were also reduced.
Conclusions: The ACT-based stress management program may be an efficient and feasible option for adolescents and adults with high-functioning ASD in reducing stress, psychological distress such as depression and anxiety as well as increasing quality of life.