Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 2740–2747 | Cite as

ACT Processes in Group Intervention for Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Kenneth FungEmail author
  • Johanna Lake
  • Lee Steel
  • Kelly Bryce
  • Yona Lunsky
Original Paper


Few studies have examined interventions or therapeutic processes that may help parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) manage their stress. This study examines the impact of a brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) group intervention, led by parents, among a cohort of 33 mothers of children with ASD. Changes in ACT process measures (psychological flexibility, cognitive fusion, values) were evaluated at pre, post, and 3 months following the intervention. Mothers reported significant improvement post-intervention in psychological flexibility, cognitive fusion, and value-consistent activities in multiple life domains, including parenting, relationships, and self-care. These improvements were maintained at follow-up. The results provide preliminary evidence that improvements observed in depression and stress may be mediated by cognitive fusion and action-values consistency.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Group intervention Mothers Psychological flexibility Values 


Author Contributions

KF co-designed the study, designed and co-facilitated the intervention, co-led the data analyses, collaborated in the interpretation, and led the writing of this paper. JL collaborated with the design and assisted with the data collection, analysis, and interpretation and writing of the study. LS and KB collaborated with the design, co-facilitated the parent groups, and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. YL co-designed and executed the study, co-led the data analyses, and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.


This study was funded by Women’s College Hospital (Women’s Xchange 2015).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All of the authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUHN - Toronto Western HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Adult Neurodevelopmental ServicesCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Extend-A-Family TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Surrey Place CentreTorontoCanada

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