Mindfulness Experiences of Children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety- An Exploratory Study

Prof Doc Thesis

Lambert, Jodie 2015. Mindfulness Experiences of Children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety- An Exploratory Study. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.4423
AuthorsLambert, Jodie
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This qualitative phenomenological study explored the experiences of four children with
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and anxiety (aged 10-13 years) who took part in a
mindfulness-based intervention. The research was conducted within a local authority in
times of reform in both education and mental health. A systematic literature review
indicated that the majority of children with ASD experience difficulties with attention,
anxiety, empathy, comprehension and communication within the social world. The
research into mindfulness revealed it to have many applications in social and emotional
development, attention and general well-being for children and adults. However, there
was limited literature regarding mindfulness-based interventions with children on the
autistic spectrum. The central research question was ‘what do children with ASD say
about their experiences of being part of the mindfulness programme?’ Additional
research questions were ‘what do children with ASD say about their life experiences?’
and ‘does anything change in children’s lived experiences during the course of the
mindfulness programme?’ The data was collected using semi-structured interviews pre
and post intervention and via audio- diaries. Data was analysed using Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis. The themes that emerged were ‘worries’, ‘perceptions of
the self’, ‘relationships’, ‘connecting to the environment’, ‘views of autism’ and
‘perceptions and experiences of mindfulness’. The themes appear to indicate that
mindfulness-based approaches may be useful in promoting the psychological well-being
of children with ASD. Children reported enjoyment of mindfulness, engagement with
the practical and concrete teaching of the intervention, positive changes to their
experiences of having autism and worries, feelings of empowerment and resiliency,
enjoyment of new experiences and abilities in noticing and accepting change. Therefore,
the research identifies positive opportunities for children with ASD to engage with
mindfulness-based approaches and it also highlights the role that can be undertaken by
the educational psychologist in such interventions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.4423
Publication dates
PrintApr 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Sep 2015
Publisher's version
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