University of Hertfordshire

Mind-Mindedness in Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1016/j.rasd.2017.08.005
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Volume43-44
Early online date23 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

Abstract

Background: Little is currently understood about the ways in which caregivers represent the internal mental states of their child with autism. Previous research has shown that being mind-minded can limit the experience of parenting stress in typically developing samples. The current study explored mind-mindedness in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and examined whether this related to the experience of parenting stress.
Method: Mind-mindedness was coded from mothers’ descriptions of their child obtained from an online survey (N = 55). A subsample of these mothers also provided data on a non-ASD sibling (n = 27). We compared mothers’ mind-mindedness when describing their child with ASD and a non-ASD sibling.
Results: Mothers predominantly described their child with ASD using mental and behavioral attributes. There were no overall differences in mothers’ use of mental state descriptors when referring to their child with ASD or a sibling, however, when considering the valence of descriptors, a significantly higher proportion of the mental attributes used to describe the child with ASD were negative. Associations between mind-mindedness and overall parenting stress failed to reach significance.
Conclusions: Parenting a child with ASD does not appear to limit the parent’s ability to tune-in to their child’s mind. Maternal mind-mindedness scores were similar for the ASD and non-ASD sibling, although there were differences in the valence of representations. Being mind-minded did not protect against parenting stress, however we suggest that the high levels of stress experienced by our sample were beyond the protective reach of mind-mindedness.

Notes

This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: Elizabeth Kirk, and Shivani Sharma, ‘Mind-mindedness in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder’, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Vol. 43-33: 18-26, November 2017. Under embargo until 23 March 2019. The final, published version is available online at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2017.08.005.

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