Friday, August 1, 2014

MINDFULNESS FOR PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS

Just when you might have been tempted to think that no more probative medical and scientific evidence could possibly emerge as to the positive, beneficial, and life-changing effects of the regular practice of mindfulness, one more study emerges. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

The New York Times recently featured an article titled ‘When the Caregivers Need Healing.’ The article focused on a recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics, showing that just 6 weeks of mindfulness training produced lower rates of stress, anxiety and depression in parents raising a child with developmental disabilities, genetic syndromes or psychiatric issues.

Of course, children with special needs may have mild learning disabilities or they may have profound cognitive impairment. Special needs embraces food allergies as well as a terminal illness. Then there are such things as developmental delays, debilitating panic attacks, and more serious psychiatric problems. What I’ve just mentioned is by no means exhaustive.

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 per cent of the participants reported significantly elevated stress, 48 percent said they were clinically depressed, and 41 per cent reported anxiety disorders.

The first group practiced meditation, breathing exercises, and qigong practices to hone mental focus. The second group received instructions on curbing negative thoughts, practising gratitude and reclaiming an aspect of adult life. Both groups were led by specially trained mentors, themselves the parents of special-needs children.

The mindfulness treatment and positive adult development led to significant reductions in stress, anxiety, depression as well as improved sleep and life satisfaction among participants, with the mothers in the mindfulness group having the greater improvements in anxiety, depression and insomnia than those who received positive adult development training.


Resource
: Dykens E M, Fisher M H, Taylor J L, Lambert W, and Miodrag N. ‘Reducing Distress in Mothers of Children With Autism and Other Disabilities: A Ran
domized Trial.’ Pediatrics. 2014 Jul 21. pii: peds.2013-3164. [Epub ahead of print.]
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IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blogspot is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on this blogspot. For immediate advice or support call Lifeline on 13 1 1 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For information, advice and referral on mental illness contact the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) go online via sane.org


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