Stress-Reduction Techniques for Enhancing Parenting Skills (STEPS)

Families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience heightened risk due to elevated rates of clinically-significant parenting stress and child externalizing behavior problems. Parenting stress is a robust predictor of subsequent externalizing challenges in children with ASD and may diminish the efficacy of interventions designed to promote adaptive outcomes for this population. This study employs an RCT design and examines the efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in comparison to a Psychoeducation and Support control group in reducing parenting stress and subsequent child externalizing behavior problems in a sample of families of young children with ASD.

Behavioral problems and co-occurring parenting stress are common problems in children with DD and their families, yet parenting stress is almost never directly addressed in behavioral interventions for these families. This research tests the benefit of addressing this issue through mindfulness (the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment) prior to delivering behavioral parent training in order to more effectively reduce child behavior problems once the intervention is delivered. It also investigates the mechanisms through which intervention outcomes occur.

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