Mindfulness Training Effects for Parents and Educators of Children With Special Needs

Psycho-social aspects

Authors: Ben R., Akiva T., Arel S.& Roeser R.W. (2012)
Journal: Developmental psychology 48 (5)

Summary: This study represents the Mindfulness Training (MT) approach and its implications to parents and educators' work with special needs population. Research has shown that parents face difficulties meeting the needs of the SEN population that are exacerbated during adolescence. The stability of the family relationship is threatened, therefore the need of support becomes emergent. Similarly, research has suggested that the level of teachers' stress is increased trying to respond to each students' needs, engage the student and maintain good relationship with the family. Interventions to help both teachers and educators to fulfill their roles and maximize their educational skills are essential. Mindfulness Training interventions have proven to be helpful.

The hypothesis of the study was that MT would prove efficacious with regard to fostering positive changes in mindfulness, reductions in stress and distress, increases in well-being, and positive changes in relational and caregiving competence. 70 participants (32 parents and 38 educators) were recruited through the special education offices of a school in a Midwestern city.

Participants completed surveys at three time points: baseline (1week pre-MT), program completion (1 week post-MT), and follow-up (2 months post-MT).

The MT involves 36 hr of didactic and group discussion activities, mindfulness practices, and homework assignments delivered over nine 2.5-hr sessions and 2 full days. The mindfulness practices include specific mental training exercises, such as concentration on thoughts or the breath, and homework practices, such as assignments of daily sitting practices and monitoring emotional and behavioral responses. Parents and educators participated in MT sessions twice a week over a 5-week period.

The results from this study demonstrate that intensive MT conducted over a 5-week period significantly increased participants’ self-reported mindfulness in terms of their being (a) more aware and present to their surroundings, physical sensations, and internal mental processes; (b) less judgmental; and (c) more descriptive of their moment-to-moment experiences. In turn, parents' stress was reduced with program effects persisting and growing larger by the follow-up assessment 2 months later. (Reviewed by Katerina Chatziantoniou, specialeducation.gr Advisory Team member)

The article can be found here.