Blackledge, J. T. (2005). Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the support of parents of children diagnosed with autism. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 66(2-B), 1161.
Parents of autistic children face enormous challenges, but very little attention has been paid to their psychological needs. The focus of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has previously been argued in the literature to apply to these parents, and there have been preliminary uncontrolled tests. The present study used a within-subject, repeated measures design to test the effects of 2-day (14 hour) group ACT workshop on 20 parents/guardians of children diagnosed with autism. Parents were assessed three weeks before the workshop, one week before, one week after, and three months after. No significant changes occurred while waiting for treatment, but pre to post improvements were found on the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), and the Global Severity Index of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). Significant pre to follow-up improvements were observed on the BDI-II, BSI, and the General Health Questionnaire-12. No significant changes occurred on the Parental Locus of Control Scale, a self-report measure assessing perceived parenting effectiveness. Mediational analyses using the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-9 and the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire-Believability scale revealed that a portion of these changes were attributable to changes in ACT-specific processes of acceptance, cognitive defusion, and readiness to engage in values-consistent behavior. Results suggest that ACT may be of assistance in helping parents better adjust to the difficulties in raising children diagnosed with autism.