The chronic stress of caregiving can lead to experiences of chronic fear, and impair relationships, creating frequent conflict and mistrust. We developed a tailored mindfulness-based intervention, (Health Enhancement and Resiliency Training (HEART) for caregiving mothers of children with autism and mothers of neurotypical children. HEART aims to promote awareness, reduce experiential avoidance, promote acceptance of negative emotional states, and restore a sense of connection with oneself and others. We found that of people who reported higher self-judgment before either receiving HEART or not, those who received HEART (relative to those who did not receive HEART) showed greater reductions in self-judgment, daily negative emotion, and daily mind-wandering, as well as improvements in relationship quality. We want to understand the daily experiences of mothers of children with autism, and how these experiences differ from those of mothers of neurotypical children. We have begun a collaborative relationship with a seasoned narrative coherence researcher, Jonathan Adler, PhD, a professor at Olin College, to assess such experiences, which are important for the development of interventions to support caregivers for children with developmental disorders. Dr. Adler and his team will begin coding the interviews for themes of agency, redemption, and dimensions of individual and interpersonal well-being in May of 2017. Together, Drs. Mason, Adler, and Epel will prepare a manuscript from these data to be submitted for publication to submit in late 2017.

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