Self-Help for Parents of Children with Autism: Mindfulness and Compassion

  • Samuel Fernandez-CarribaEmail author
  • Jessica Bradshaw
Part of the Autism and Child Psychopathology Series book series (ACPS)


Whereas the role of the parent as natural therapist for their child with autism has been studied at length, much less attention has been given to understand and support the emotional needs of those we bestow with such a great responsibility. In this chapter, we refer to interventions that provide support for the mental health and overall well-being of these parents as self-help programs. First, we highlight the scarcity of studies addressing self-help in the parent-training literature. Next, we discuss practical and ethical reasons why more attention should be given to this topic. We then provide a detailed account of self-help programs that have been empirically studied, with attention to specific techniques that have shown promising results, such as mindfulness meditation or training in full awareness. Mindfulness and compassion meditation, defined by the cultivation of full awareness of others and self with the desire to alleviate all suffering, will be presented as a potentially successful coping strategy to reduce distress in parents of children with autism as well as a social skill training to reduce isolation and increase social competence. We will conclude with the brief report of a pilot program at the Marcus Autism Center in which we aimed to teach parents mindfulness and compassion meditation which, in turn, may benefit their children with autism.


Compassion Mindfulness Self-help Mental health Parents Autism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of AtlantaAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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