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27-08-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 12/2019

Mindfulness 12/2019

Self-Compassion: a Protective Factor for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mindfulness > Uitgave 12/2019
Susanna Torbet, Michael Proeve, Rachel M. Roberts
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Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face many unique challenges and experience higher parenting stress than other parenting groups. These parents also experience internalised stigma by association with their ASD affected child, known as affiliate stigma. These factors predict greater psychological distress and subsequently decreased well-being for parents. Recent evidence has suggested that the psychological construct of self-compassion may act as a protective factor against stigma, as well as positively influencing the experiences of parents.


An online survey was conducted with parents of children with ASD (N = 237), administering standardised measures to investigate levels of stigma and self-compassion, as well as psychological outcomes.


Self-compassion was positively correlated with subjective well-being and negatively correlated with psychological distress and parenting stress. Hierarchical multiple regression controlled for background factors, known predictors (child symptom severity and social support), and various aspects of stigma. Self-compassion and affiliate stigma significantly added to explained variance as a predictor of well-being, psychological distress, and parenting stress.


Self-compassion was found to predict psychological well-being, lower distress, and lower parenting stress. If self-compassion is found to be causally related to these outcomes, interventions aimed at cultivating self-compassion and decreasing affiliate stigma may have benefits for parents of children with ASD.

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