International Meeting for Autism Research: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction In Adults with ASD

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction In Adults with ASD

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
11:00 AM
A. A. Spek1 and N. C. van Ham2, (1)Mental Health Institution Eindhoven, Eindhoven, Netherlands, (2)GGZ Eindhoven , Eindhoven, Netherlands


Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are at increased risk for comorbid psychiatric disorders. Research shows that depressive symptoms are the most common psychiatric concern in ASD, especially in higher functioning adults and adolescents. Up to 50 % of individuals with ASD meets criteria for depression. Ruminative thinking has frequently been associated with depression in general, but seems particularly relevant in autism, given their tendency to perseverate.

Treatment opportunities for co-morbid depression in adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are limited and lack scientific proof. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a relatively new form of treatment that has been found particularly effective in treating mood disorders in clinical populations. Since MBSR requires few communication and theory of mind skills, it may be a promising therapy for individuals with ASD.



To examine the effectiveness of MBSR in adults with ASD on symptoms of depression, rumination and general well-being.



21 adults with ASD and full scale IQ > 85, received 9 weekly MBSR sessions. The results of each group were compared with those of a matched control group of individuals. The diagnoses of the individuals were based on the ADI-R and a structured DSM-IV interview. Symptoms of depression, rumination and general well-being were assessed by the use of questionnaires.



Data of the first 11 adults have been analyzed and results show a significant improvement in symptoms of depression (p < .0005, partial eta squared .676) and rumination (p <.0005, partial eta squared .910). Furthermore, a near significant decrease in negative affect was found, but no significant change in positive affect. At the end of December 2010, the data-collection will be finished and final conclusions will be drawn.



MBSR is a patient-friendly method that appears valuable in the treatment of comorbid depression and rumination in high functioning adults with ASD. Apparently, high-functioning adults with ASD are able to acquire meditation skills and apply those in there home environment in a manner that diminishes their symptoms of depression and rumination. This finding is particularly hopeful since it stresses opportunities of these individuals.


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