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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Celia C. Y. Wong.

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Wong, C.C.Y., Mak, W.W.S. & Liao, K.YH. Self-Compassion: a Potential Buffer Against Affiliate Stigma Experienced by Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Mindfulness 7, 1385–1395 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0580-2

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Keywords

  • Self-compassion
  • Affiliate stigma
  • Autism
  • Caregiver
  • Chinese