Date of Award

5-1-2019

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Dixon, Mark

Abstract

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a behaviorally-based intervention that promotes values-driven behavior change. ACT teaches skills such as acceptance, present-moment awareness, commitment to values-based actions, and new ways to interact with stressful and anxiety provoking thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness is a popular component of present moment awareness that is often taught within an ACT model of intervention. The purpose of this study was to determine if mindfulness alone or ACT could influence the psychological flexibility and attention of children with autism and related disabilities aged 7-18. Ten participants received 4 weeks of either ACT or mindfulness training in a group therapy setting twice a week. A series of psychological flexibility and mindfulness questionnaires were administered to the participants along with computerized and physical attention tasks prior to and after completing the series of ACT and mindfulness activities sequence. The overall result of the study indicated that ACT may be a way to provide more wholistic services to children and adolescents with autism compared to mindfulness only, but that both interventions have value within this serviced population.

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