Parents of Children with Special Needs, Namaste!

Parents grab your herbal tea and favorite Enya cassette tape. A recent study in Pediatrics suggests practicing mindfulness and positive psychology can reduce stress, anxiety and depression in parents whose children have autism and other neurodevelopment disorders:
Researchers at Vanderbilt University randomly assigned 243 mothers of children with developmental disabilities, genetic syndromes or psychiatric issues to mindfulness training or “positive adult development.” At the start of the study, 85 percent of the participants reported significantly elevated stress; 48 percent said they were clinically depressed, and 41 percent reported anxiety disorders.
The first group practiced meditation, breathing exercises, and qigong practices to hone mental focus. The second received instructions on curbing negative thoughts, practicing gratitude and reclaiming an aspect of adult life. Both groups were led by specially trained mentors, themselves the parents of special-needs children. via New York Times
Parents in both groups reported less depression, stress, and anxiety in addition to better sleep and life satisfaction. Moreover, those doing the mindfulness routine experienced the biggest improvements in their moods and stress levels. So hello to my new yogi friends. Good lucking finding your zen and balancing your chi between speech therapy and Khan Academy.

True, I do enjoy a good ohhhhmmmmmmmm. I really enjoy the British accents of the hypnosis gurus at Uncommon Knowledge.  I honestly believe kids should be learning meditation and relaxation techniques at school. Big fan. 

But don't get into your downward dog just yet folks. Know this. The researchers didn't include a control group. It's not clear to what extent the benefits here come from the feel-good warm fuzzy mantras or simply getting together every week with other adults under the care of some no doubt attentive zen master. Personally I'm inclined to think the kumbaya togetherness of it all played some role. So for instance if they'd all just gotten together and watched lame YouTube videos maybe they'd have felt a little better. It's too bad I can't say for sure. 

All this altered consciousness can be yours for a mere $200 or $350 for both the mindfulness manual and the positive psych manual. Of course this doesn't include the Lululemon yoga wear which will set you back at least another hundred. Or an endorsement from Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America. 

Or my own congenial (and totally free) musings. 


Anonymous said...

I guess I should try some meditation. Thanks for this!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hey Anony, let me know how it goes.