Skip to main content

Mindfulness-Based Positive Behavior Support (MBPBS) for Mothers of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Effects on Adolescents’ Behavior and Parental Stress

Abstract

Some parents have to deal with the challenging behaviors of their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including aggressive and destructive behaviors. While pharmacological and behavioral interventions have been the treatments of choice, sometimes the pharmacological treatments are not very effective or the behavioral interventions are so labor intensive that parents fail to implement them consistently, thus leading to treatment failure and parental stress. In this proof-of-concept study, we assessed the effects of providing mindfulness-based positive behavior support (MBPBS) training to three mothers on the challenging and compliance behaviors of their adolescents with ASD. The MBPBS program included a series of meditations aimed at personal transformation during an 8-week program. The training in mindfulness-based practices was paired with applications to their interactions with their adolescent children using a positive behavior support model, whereby the mothers learned how to apply behavioral contingencies with intuitive awareness. Results showed that the adolescents’ challenging behaviors decreased and compliance behaviors increased commensurate with the mothers’ training in MBPBS. In addition, statistically significant reductions in the mothers’ stress levels were correlated with the MBPBS training. These findings provide initial support for MBPBS in assisting parents to effectively manage the challenging behaviors of their children with ASD and in increasing their positive social interactions with them, but without raising their own stress levels.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Attwood, T. (2008). The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barlow, D. H., Nock, M., & Hersen, M. (2009). Single-case experimental designs (3rd ed.). New York: Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bluth, K., & Wahler, R. G. (2011). Does effort matter in mindful parenting? Mindfulness, 2, 175–178.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bluth, K., Roberson, P. N. E., Billen, R. M., & Sams, J. M. (2013). A stress model for couples parenting children with autism spectrum disorders and the introduction of a mindfulness intervention. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 5, 194–213.

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Bögels, S. M., Hellemans, J., van Deursen, S., Römer, M., & Meulen, van der R. (2013). Mindful parenting in mental health care: effects on parental and child psychopathology, parental stress, parenting, coparenting, and marital functioning. Mindfulness. e-print in advance of publication.

  • Brereton, A. V., Tonge, B. J., & Einfeld, S. L. (2006). Psychopathology in children and adolescents with autism compared to young people with intellectual disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 863–870.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buksbazen, J. D. (2002). Zen meditation in plain English. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carr, E. G. (2007). The expanding vision of positive behavior support: research perspectives on happiness, helpfulness, hopefulness. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9, 3–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carr, E. G., Dunlap, G., Horner, R. H., Koegel, R. L., Turnbull, A. P., Sailor, W., et al. (2002). Positive behavior support: evolution of an applied science. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 4–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chavez, B., Chavez-Brown, M., & Rey, J. A. (2006). Role of risperidone in children with autism spectrum disorder. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 40, 909–916.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chödrön, P. (2007). Don’t bite the hook: finding freedom from anger, resentment, and other destructive emotions. Boston, MA: Shambhala Audio.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chödrön, P. (2010). Taking the leap: freeing ourselves from old habits and fears. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385–396.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, S., & Williamson, G. (1988). Psychological stress in a probability sample of the United States. In S. Spacapan & S. Oskamp (Eds.), The social psychology of health: Claremont symposium on applied social psychology (pp. 31–67). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dominick, K. C., Davis, N. O., Lainhart, J., Tager-Flusberg, H., & Folstein, S. (2007). Atypical behaviors in children with autism and children with a history of language impairment. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28, 145–162.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Durand, V. M., Hieneman, M., Clarke, S., Wang, M., & Rinaldi, M. L. (2012). Positive family intervention for severe challenging behavior I: a multisite randomized clinical trial. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 15, 133–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Estes, A., Munson, J., Dawson, G., Koehler, E., Zhou, X., & Abbott, R. (2009). Parenting stress and psychological functioning among mothers of preschool children with autism and developmental delay. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice, 13, 375–387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Giommi, F., & Barendregt, H. (2014). Vipassana, insight and intuition: seeing things as they are. In N. N. Singh (Ed.), Psychology of meditation (pp. 129–146). New York: Nova.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grossman, P. (2008). On measuring mindfulness in psychosomatic and psychological research. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64, 405–408.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grossman, P., & Van Dam, N. T. (2011). Mindfulness, by any other name. Trials and tribulations of sati in western psychology and science. Contemporary Buddhism, 12, 219–239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gupta, A., & Singhal, N. (2005). Psychosocial support for families of children with autism. Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, 16, 62–83.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hastings, R. P. (2002). Parental stress and behavior problems of children with developmental disability. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 27, 149–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hieneman, M., Childs, K., & Sergay, J. (2006). Parenting with positive behavior support. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537–559.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Horner, R. H., Carr, E. G., Strain, P. S., Todd, A. W., & Reed, H. K. (2002). Problem behavior interventions for young children with autism: a research synthesis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 423–446.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, L., Hastings, R. P., Totsika, V., Keane, L., & Rhule, N. (2014). Child behavior problems and parental well-being in families of children with autism: the mediating role of mindfulness and acceptance. American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 119, 171–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain and illness. NY: Delta.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kanne, S. M., & Mazurek, M. O. (2011). Aggression in children and adolescents with ASD: prevalence and risk factors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 926–937.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kongtrül, D. (2008). Light comes through: Buddhist teaching on awakening to our natural intelligence. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kyabgon, T. (2004). Mind at ease: self-liberation through Mahamudra meditation. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

    Google Scholar 

  • Laraway, S., Snycerski, S., Michael, J., & Poling, A. (2003). Motivating operations and terms to describe them: some further refinements. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 407–414.

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Lecavalier, L. (2006). Behavioral and emotional problems in young people with pervasive developmental disorders: relative prevalence, effects of subject characteristics, and empirical classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 1101–1114.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lecavalier, L., Leone, S., & Wiltz, J. (2006). The impact of behavior problems on caregiver stress in young people with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 173–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lucyshyn, J. M., Dunlap, G., & Albin, R. W. (2002). Families and positive behavior support: addressing problem behaviors in family contexts. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Malone, R. P., & Waheed, A. (2009). The role of antipsychotics in the management of behavioral symptoms in children and adolescents with autism. Drugs, 69, 535–548.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matson, J. L., & Nebel-Schwalm, M. (2007). Assessing challenging behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders: a review. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 28, 567–579.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matson, M. L., Mahan, S., & Matson, J. L. (2009). Parent training: a review of methods for children with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 868–875.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDonald, K. (2005). How to meditate: a practical guide. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGrath, A. (2013). Links between the conduct of carers and clients’ challenging behaviour. Learning Disability Practice, 16, 30–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Myers, R. E., Winton, A. S. W., Lancioni, G. E., & Singh, N. N. (2014). Mindfulness meditation in developmental disabilities. In N. N. Singh (Ed.), Psychology of meditation (pp. 209–240). New York: Nova.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neece, C. L. (2014). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for parents of young children with developmental delays: applications for parental mental health and child behavior. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability, 27, 174–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neece, C. L., Green, S. A., & Baker, B. L. (2012). Parenting stress and child behavior problems: a transactional relationship across time. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117, 48–66.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parker, R. I., Hagan-Burke, S., & Vannest, K. (2007). Percentage of all non-overlapping data (PAND): an alternative to PND. Journal of Special Education, 40, 194–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parker, R. I., & Vannest, K. (2009). An improved effect size for single-case research: nonoverlap of all pairs. Behavior Therapy, 40, 357–367.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sailor, W., Dunlap, G., Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (2009). Handbook of positive behavior support. New York, NY: Springer.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Sameroff, A. J. (1995). General systems theories and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (Theory and methods, Vol. 1, pp. 659–695). New York, NY: John Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schieve, L. A., Blumberg, S. J., Rice, C., Visser, S. N., & Boyle, C. (2007). The relationship between autism and parenting stress. Pediatrics, 119, S114–S121.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Silva, L., & Schalock, M. (2012). Autism parenting stress index: initial psychometric evidence. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 566–574.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Simpson, R. L., & Myles, B. S. (1998). Aggression among children and youth who have Asperger’s syndrome: a different population requiring different strategies. Preventing School Failure, 42, 149–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N. (2014a). Psychology of meditation. New York, NY: Nova.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N. (2014b). Meditation: nature and applications. In N. N. Singh (Ed.), Psychology of meditation (pp. 1–9). New York, NY: Nova.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Fisher, B. C., Wahler, R. G., McAleavey, K., Singh, J., & Sabaawi, M. (2006). Mindful parenting decreases aggression, noncompliance and self-injury in children with autism. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 14, 169–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Singh, J., Curtis, W. J., Wahler, R. G., & McAleavey, K. M. (2007). Mindful parenting decreases aggression and increases social behavior in children with developmental disabilities. Behavior Modification, 31, 749–771.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Singh, J., Singh, A. N., Adkins, A. D., & Wahler, R. G. (2010a). Training in mindful caregiving transfers to parent–child interactions. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 167–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N., Singh, A. N., Lancioni, G. E., Singh, J., Winton, A. S. W., & Adkins, A. D. (2010b). Mindfulness training for parents and their children with ADHD increases the children’s compliance. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 157–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., & Singh, J. (2011a). Aggression, tantrums, and other externally driven challenging behaviors. In J. L. Matson & P. Sturmey (Eds.), International handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders (pp. 413–435). New York: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, N. N., Singh, J., Singh, A. D. A., Singh, A. N. A., & Winton, A. S. W. (2011b). Meditation on the soles of the feet for anger management: a trainer’s manual. Raleigh, NC: Fernleaf. (www.fernleafpub.com).

  • Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Karazsia, B. T., & Singh, J. (2013). Mindfulness training for teachers changes the behavior of their preschool students. Research in Human Development, 10, 211–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: theory, method and research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stachnik, J. M., & Nunn-Thompson, C. (2007). Use of atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of autistic disorder. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 41, 626–634.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suchday, S., Mayson, S. J., Klepper, J., Meyer, H., & Dziok, M. (2014). Eastern and Western perspectives on meditation. In N. N. Singh (Ed.), Psychology of meditation (pp. 45–64). New York, NY: Nova.

    Google Scholar 

  • Totsika, V., Hastings, R. P., Emerson, E., Berridge, D. M., & Lancaster, G. A. (2011). Behavior problems at 5 years of age and maternal mental health in autism and intellectual disability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 1137–1147.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Gordon, W., Shonin, E., Sumich, A., Sundin, E. C., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013). Meditation awareness training (MAT) for psychological well-being in a sub-clinical sample of university students: a controlled pilot study. Mindfulness. Epub in advance of print. DOI. doi:10.1007/s12671-012-0191-5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams, K. L., & Wahler, R. G. (2010). Are mindful parents more authoritative and less authoritarian? An analysis of clinic-referred mothers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 230–235.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nirbhay N. Singh.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Singh, N.N., Lancioni, G.E., Winton, A.S.W. et al. Mindfulness-Based Positive Behavior Support (MBPBS) for Mothers of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Effects on Adolescents’ Behavior and Parental Stress. Mindfulness 5, 646–657 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0321-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0321-3

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Mindfulness
  • MBPBS
  • Aggressive and destructive behaviors
  • Compliance with parental requests
  • Parental stress