Mothers of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities experience more stress, depression and poorer health than mothers of typically developing children.
The study "Reducing Distress in Mothers of Children with Autism and Other Disabilities: A Randomized Trial" appearing in the August 2014 issue of Pediatrics (published online July 21), enrolled 243 mothers with a child with a neurodevelopmental disability into either a mindfulness program or a positive psychology peer-mentored program.
The goal was to determine if either program reduced levels of stress or depression, or improved life satisfaction. Unlike the usual child-oriented interventions, this study treated parent distress by using adult-oriented strategies. Both groups showed less personal stress, less dysfunctional parent-child interactions, as well as less anxiety and depression and improved
sleep and life satisfaction. However, the mothers enrolled in the mindfulness program showed significantly greater improvements in depression, anxiety, sleep and life satisfaction.
The authors conclude that future studies should be done on how trained mentors and professionals can address the
mental health needs of mothers of
children with developmental disabilities since doing so can improve maternal well-being and long-term caregiving for children with complex needs.