Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Mothers of Children and Youth with Autism SpectrumDisorder


Mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often face high levels of stress. While there have been interventions for parents of children with ASD targeting their parenting skills, there have been fewer studies that aim to target the psychological or physical well-being of the mothers themselves. This study included mothers of children with ASD to cofacilitate acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to other mothers of children with ASD. The intervention consisted of one evening session and a full-day workshop, followed by a refresher session 1 month later. Of the 33 mothers that enrolled in the study, 29 attended all three sessions and completed the outcome measures. Significant changes were observed over time in terms of depression, stress, social isolation and physical health scores. Post hoc analyses showed reductions in stress and depression and improvements in physical health which were maintained at follow-up. Results suggest that a brief parent-facilitated ACT group intervention may be effective in improving the mental and physical health of mothers of children with ASD.

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Author information




YL co-designed and executed the study, led the data analyses, and wrote the paper. KF co-designed the study, designed and co-facilitated the intervention, and collaborated in the interpretation and writing of the study. 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. This study was funded by the Women’s Health XChange, a provincial program housed at Women’s College Hospital, Canada.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kenneth Fung.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Statement

This study was approved by the institutional IRBs at the University Health Network and Surrey Place Centre.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in this study.

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Lunsky, Y., Fung, K., Lake, J. et al. Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Mothers of Children and Youth with Autism SpectrumDisorder. Mindfulness 9, 1110–1116 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0846-3

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  • Psychological acceptance
  • Mothers
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Mindfulness
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy