Mindfulness Training for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Study
Conner, Caitlin Mary
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Despite the rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), interventions for the adult population, most of whom do not achieve independent living, are limited (Seltzer, Shattuck, Abbeduto, and Greenberg, 2004). Additionally, many individuals with ASD experience impaired emotion regulation (ER), which is thought to contribute to higher rates of psychiatric comorbidities among adults with ASD as well as indirect effects upon adaptive functioning, interpersonal relationships, and vocational status ( Mazefsky et al., 2013; Samson, Huber, and Gross, 2012). The primary purpose of the current study was to investigate the initial feasibility and efficacy of an adapted mindfulness-based individual therapy for adults with ASD to target ER difficulties, and evaluate ER as a potential change process. Initial feasibility of mindfulness-based approaches among adults with ASD was supported by acceptable treatment fidelity and participant satisfaction ratings. Efficacy of the intervention was partially supported; four of the participants demonstrated significant improvements in impulse control, access to ER strategies, and emotional acceptance, and two of the participants evidenced significant decreases in emotional symptom distress. Analysis of ER as a potential change process found significant improvement for four participants, but slopes demonstrated that improvement initiated before treatment, a confound for determination of change processes. Further research is recommended, including additional timepoints, a clinical cutoff-derived sample, and further understanding of the role of self-regulatory deficits for individuals with ASD.
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