Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in the support of parents of children with high-functioning Autism

Sanaz Joekar, Aliasghar Asgharnejad Farid, Behrooz Birashk, Banafshe Gharraee, Mehrdad Mohammadian


Objective: Parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder face with significant challenges and stressors but little empirical studies have investigated ways to address their psychological distress. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a new method of psychotherapy which seems well suited to difficult thoughts and feelings faced by these parents. The current study investigated the effects of an 8-week Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or treatment as usual (TAU).

Method: 24 mothers of children with high functioning autism who were dividing in two groups were assigned either in ACT or in TAU group. 8 therapeutic sessions administered in Tehran autism charity foundation weekly. All the subjects were assessed by AAQ-II, DASS-21 and SF-12 scales. Assessment was carried out in three occasions: (1) before, (2) after and (3) one month after termination of intervention. Data were analyzed by multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA).

Results: Overall, mothers receiving ACT compared to TAU group reported a significantly decrease in the scores of AAQ-II and depression at posttest and follow up states. There were no significant differences between two groups in terms of quality of life, stress and anxiety.

Conclusion: An ACT-based intervention delivered in group format may have promise in helping parents better adjust to the challenges of raising children with autism.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, High- functioning Autism.

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