An investigation into the impact of a mindfulness-based intervention on the anxiety of primary-aged children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Summers, Kirstie (2020) An investigation into the impact of a mindfulness-based intervention on the anxiety of primary-aged children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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There is growing recognition of the role schools can, and should have, in supporting children and young people’s mental health (Department of Health (DoH) & Department of Education (DfE), 2017). Evidence suggests potential benefits of utilising mindfulness-based interventions with children in primary schools to reduce anxiety (e.g. van de Weijer-Bergsma et al., 2014). However, there is a noticeable lack of research investigating the application of mindfulness-based interventions within children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), who appear particularly vulnerable to experiencing anxiety (van Steensel et al., 2011). Accordingly, this study presents an investigation into the impact of a teacher delivered mindfulness-based intervention on the anxiety of children diagnosed with ASD.

A mixed methods design was adopted. Single case experimental designs were used to investigate the impact of the intervention on the anxiety-related behaviours of five children diagnosed with ASD (aged between 5 and 11 years) attending specialist settings. Pre and post parent and teacher report measures were also collected relating to the children’s anxiety. After delivery of the intervention, the perceptions of the participating children and teachers were gathered via semi-structured interviews.

The results suggested there was no observable or significant change in participant anxiety as a result of the intervention. The children appeared to generally enjoy the intervention, although they did not see themselves continuing the mindfulness activities. Thematic analysis of the teachers’ perceptions suggested the intervention taught relevant skills and in particular, there were perceived benefits of mindful breathing. However, challenges related to the complexity of the intervention, alongside specific challenges for children with ASD, were highlighted.

The findings should be interpreted in light of methodological limitations, and consequently, due to the weaknesses identified and the limited prior study in this area, further research is required. Nevertheless, the study adds to our understanding about the potential efficacy of utilising teacher delivered mindfulness-based interventions with children diagnosed with ASD.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Durbin, Nicholas
Keywords: Mindfulness, Autism, ASD, Anxiety, School-based intervention
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 61695
Depositing User: Summers, Kirstie
Date Deposited: 21 May 2021 09:28
Last Modified: 21 May 2021 09:30

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