College of Health Solutions Assistant Professor Braden Blair recently discovered mindfulness is also a useful tool for dealing with the particular stressors associated with an autism spectrum disorder.
According to news published this month in the journal Quality of Life Research, Braden and colleagues detail two separate studies in which they set out to better understand the factors that affect the quality of life in adults with autism, whom studies have shown consistently report worse functional health and well-being compared with their neurotypical peers.
The researchers found that both age and sex play a role and that both mindfulness and relaxation education can improve quality of life in adults with autism, but mindfulness provided specific benefits in relation to how autistic individuals view their disability-associated limitations that relaxation education did not.
The first study employed a survey to evaluate the effects of sex and age. Sixty-seven adults with autism spectrum disorder and 66 neurotypical adults answered questions about their physical and mental health. Both men and women with autism reported lower mental health quality of life compared with their neurotypical counterparts, but only women with autism reported lower physical quality of life compared with neurotypical adults.
Interestingly, researchers also found that among adults with autism, older women reported better mental health than men, whom age didn’t appear to have an effect on.
The second study sought to compare the effects of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention to those of a relaxation education intervention on quality of life in adults with autism. Those who received the MBSR intervention were not only taught mindfulness techniques by a trained practitioner, they were also given time to practice the techniques during the class. Those who received the relaxation education intervention were provided with information on relaxation techniques from the National Institutes of Health but were not given time to practice the techniques during the class. Researchers found that the MBSR intervention improved disability-related quality of life (which includes both physical and mental health aspects of disability) in adults with autism over and above the relaxation education intervention