Feasibility Study of Mindfulness-Enhanced Pivotal Response Treatment Group Training for Parents of Children with Autism

Principal Investigator(s):
Deanna Swain
Grant Type:
Graduate Research
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Blacksburg, Virginia
Year Awarded:
Year Completed:
Behavior, Emotions, Mental Health; Families


Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have consistently demonstrated high levels of parental stress. In addition, this stress appears to have a bidirectional relationship with child problem behaviors, creating a continuous cycle of frustration in the family system that not only impacts the parents but also the child with ASD, siblings, friends, and others. Parent involvement in child directed therapies has become nearly commonplace. As such, parents of children with ASD often spend increased amounts of time and resources on their child (e.g. therapy involvement, appointments, problem behaviors), leaving little time for them to focus on their emotional and psychological needs. This pilot study recognizes the utility of an empirically supported child-focused group therapy aimed at teaching parents the tools to increase verbal language with their child. In addition, this study includes mindfulness-based components geared toward reducing parental stress. This research proposal aligns with OAR goals of addressing issues related to family support and empirically supported interventions for communication and challenging behavior. Results of this study will assess the feasibility of a mindfulness-enhanced version of a previously tested pivotal response treatment group approach for parents of children with ASD.

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