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Mindfulness reduces stress, depression, anxiety in parents of children with autism

Research from Vanderbilt University finds that mindfulness can ease the stress, anxiety and depression of parenting children with autism.

Learning how to parent children with autism can be stressful for their families. A pilot study led by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has found evidence that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which can reduce stress and improve sleep, may offer benefit. Parents of three-year-old children with autism were randomly assigned to attend either a 12-session parenting education program alone, or the same program combined with an additional six one-hour individual sessions of MBSR instruction.

At the end of the study, both groups showed fewer symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, but those receiving mindfulness instruction also showed less parental distress and fewer unhealthy parent-child interactions. While parents in the MBSR group reported being more mindful following the program, those in the other group were less mindful in the end. This suggests that mindfulness instruction may help to ease the stress of parenting young children with autism.


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