, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 1385–1395 | Cite as

Self-Compassion: a Potential Buffer Against Affiliate Stigma Experienced by Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Celia C. Y. WongEmail author
  • Winnie W. S. Mak
  • Kelly Yu-Hsin Liao


Affiliate stigma was found to be associated with negative outcomes among parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, but only limited research has explored a potential buffer in this association. The present study examined self-compassion as a potential protective factor. One hundred eighty Chinese parents of children with autism spectrum disorders in Hong Kong participated in the study. After controlling for various types of social support (i.e., family support, friends support, and professional support) and positive parental perception, results of a hierarchical linear regression showed that affiliate stigma was significantly associated with psychological distress. In addition, the results identified self-compassion as a moderator in the association between affiliate stigma and psychological distress. Specifically, affiliate stigma was found to be significantly associated with psychological distress among parents with low levels of self-compassion but not among parents with high levels of self-compassion. These results pointed to the importance of cultivating self-compassion among parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Future research may further explore the protective role of self-compassion in other stigmatized populations.


Self-compassion Affiliate stigma Autism Caregiver Chinese 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was not supported by any funding.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or 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.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Celia C. Y. Wong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Winnie W. S. Mak
    • 2
  • Kelly Yu-Hsin Liao
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyChinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Counseling, Administration, Supervision, and Adult Learning, College of Education and Human ServicesCleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA

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