The Experience of Mindfulness for Children with Autism: An Examination of Self-Report and Electrodermal Response
Black, Karen Rebecca
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Little is known about how children with autism respond to mindfulness activities within cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). As many children with autism also struggle to report their emotional experience, this study explored how enjoyment ratings of therapeutic activities within a CBT intervention were associated with physiological arousal, and whether patterns of arousal differed for mindful as compared to computer activities. Data was collected during a 10-week CBT-based emotion regulation intervention for children with autism (N = 35). Multilevel growth modeling revealed that greater mindfulness enjoyment was predicted by higher autism symptoms, greater child motivation to participate in therapy and greater child worry dysregulation. Greater computer enjoyment was predicted by greater child motivation to participate in therapy. Lower mindfulness arousal was predicted by higher child-reported ability to cope with worry. Findings lay groundwork towards a psychological profile of school-age children with autism who may derive particular enjoyment from mindfulness activities.