Third-wave psychological therapies can benefit individuals and families living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To date, little is known about individuals’ perceptions and experiences of therapy. This meta-synthesis aimed to capture participants’ own reflections of mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies, including potential barriers and facilitators to therapy engagement.
Database searches identified 10 independent studies targeting caregivers ( = 3), dyadic parent-child interventions ( = 6), or adults with ASD ( = 1). Studies were subject to quality assessment and thematically analysed.
Caregivers highlighted a need to adapt the length and frequency of daily mindfulness practice around busy lifestyles. Adults with ASD also identified therapy barriers, although these data were less robust. Children with ASD focused on therapy benefits.
All three participant groups commented on the importance of mindfulness as a method to enhance self-awareness, self-regulation and self-care. Peer support provided in group-based therapy was also seen as beneficial. Future research should examine the application of mindfulness therapies to adults with ASD, with little currently known about this cohort’s therapy experiences. Whether traditional mindfulness approaches can be effectively modified to accommodate ongoing, cumulative daily demands these families experience also requires investigation.Implications for rehabilitationIndividuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their caregivers often experience high levels of anxiety and stress.Mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies can enhance an individual’s self-awareness and self-regulation, thereby reducing distress – with benefits extending to familiesGroup-based therapy is an important adjunct to the support of caregivers developing mindfulness-awareness.