Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and its Application on Behavior Modification in Adolescents with High Functioning Autism
Asperger's syndrome is a high-functioning subset of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Diagnosed patients often lack refined social skills but possess a normal level of cognitive skills without delay in language development. These deficient social skills can impact the ability to find and maintain a job, which can be burdensome for all individuals involved in the patient's life. Although the causes of this condition are largely unknown, a wide variety of social and cognitive therapies have been used to reduce symptom severity, one of which is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Mindfulness is the act of being aware on purpose to whatever is being experienced in the present moment with non-judgment and receptivity. MBSR has been used to bring greater awareness to sensations, thoughts and emotions with the result being reduced reactivity and increased purposeful responsiveness. It is therefore the aim of this study to address the use of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in adolescents with clinical Asperger's Syndrome to reduce reactive tendencies. This study will utilize a randomized control group of waitlisted participants given MBSR informational material and a practicing MBSR group. Post-MBSR Parent Global Impressions-III (PGI-III) and Social Responsiveness Scale scores are hypothesized to be improved in MBSR group and unaffected in the control for behavioral markers with no change in core autistic symptoms. Daily average cortisol response is also expected to decrease in the experimental group with unaffected levels in the control.