Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience elevated levels of anxiety and worry compared to neurotypical people. However, there is a dearth of extant research on effective interventions for comorbid anxiety and worry in this population. Mindfulness, which is often defined as paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental manner, has been shown to be a propitious treatment for anxiety, worry, and other psychological ailments in neurotypical people. However, in a relatively new area of study, evidence has been growing which suggests mindfulness can also be effective in helping people with ASD cope with anxiety and worry. The current study had two major aims: 1) to see if a group of high functioning young adults with ASD (n=23) had inherently less dispositional mindfulness abilities than a neurotypical group (n=22) and 2) to see if mindfulness affected trait anxiety and worry differently for the ASD group than for the control group. Results suggested that adults with ASD were less able than neurotypical adults to effectively label and describe their internal experiences, to act with awareness in the present moment, and to allow aversive inner experiences to come and go without struggle. The results also suggested that the one powerful predictor of anxiety and worry in people with ASD was nonreactivity to inner experiences. However, there were three salient predictors of anxiety for neurotypical people: nonreactivity to inner experience, acting with awareness in the present moment, and nonjudging of thoughts and feelings. In the current study, none of the mindfulness facets predicted less worry in the neurotypical group. These results have implications for the development and implementation of mindfulness interventions to more effectively treat anxiety and worry in people with ASD.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Maisel, Max Emanuel, "The Relationship Between Dispositional Mindfulness Characteristics and Anxiety in High Functioning Adults Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2016). All Theses and Dissertations. 6005.
autism, anxiety, mindfulness