Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Pittman, Laura D.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience stress and other psychological symptoms associated with their role as a parent. Mindfulness, defined as purposefully paying attention and nonjudgmentally remaining in the present moment, and mindful parenting, the application of mindfulness to the parent-child relationship, have been found to improve psychological functioning for individuals more broadly and parents specifically. Additionally, experimental mindful parenting interventions have been found to improve multiple outcomes in parents, including mindfulness, mindful parenting, parenting stress, anxiety and depression, and self-compassion. However, experimental research to date has not yet examined an online, self-guided mindful parenting intervention, despite research supporting the benefit of online parenting interventions and mindfulness interventions focused on the individual. To address the gap in this literature, an abbreviated, online, mindful parenting intervention was compared to a waitlist control condition for parents of children with ASD who are in kindergarten through fifth grade. It was predicted that parents who were in the mindful parenting condition would report more mindful parenting, trait mindfulness, and self-compassion over time compared to the waitlist control condition. Conversely, it was predicted that parents in the mindful parenting condition would report less anxious and depressive symptoms and parenting stress over time when compared to the waitlist control condition. Thirty-two parents who were recruited through private practices, community mental health organizations, non-profit organizations, and social media groups were randomly assigned to either the mindful parenting condition or the waitlist control condition. Most hypotheses were unsupported; however, a 2x2 mixed design repeated measures ANOVA demonstrated a significant interaction between condition and time for trait mindfulness. Specifically, participants’ mindfulness stayed the same over time in the mindful parenting condition, and participants’ mindfulness decreased over time in the waitlist control condition, indicating the intervention had a buffering or protective effect against a decrease in mindfulness over time. Additionally, parents’ subjective reports of their experiences participating in the mindful parenting intervention indicated it was helpful and promoted change. Multiple design factors likely contributed to the lack of significant findings, though the results support the value of continued research on the impact of online mindful parenting programs. Future research should investigate how interventions such as these impact more diverse families and families of children who are typically developing or have other psychological diagnoses.


126 pages




Northern Illinois University

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