Seeing it my way: A perspective taking intervention alleviates psychological distress in caregivers of autistic children

Brian Lovell*, Amy Newman, Mark Wetherell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cognitively empathic caregivers are able to take the perspective of their autistic child(ren) without experiencing vicarious distressing emotions, and typically report lower psychological distress. Taking the perspective of the autistic child might, through fostering cognitive empathy, might relieve caregivers’ psychological distress. Here we explored whether autism perspective taking videos developed by the National Autistic Society (NAS), intended to raise public awareness about autism, might be effective, packaged as an intervention, for increasing caregivers’ cognitive empathy and reducing their psychological distress. A sample of 24 caregivers of autistic children completed questionnaires capturing psychological distress and cognitive empathy at baseline. For three consecutive days, for two-three minutes per day, caregivers watched perspective taking videos. Follow up assessments were collected 7, 14, and 21 days post intervention. Psychological distress was lower after seven days, and stayed lower 14 and 21 days post intervention compared with baseline. Cognitive empathy was higher after 14 days, and remained higher 21 days post intervention compared with baseline. Taking the perspective of the autistic child, achieved here with publically available NAS videos, seems to be effective for increasing caregivers’ cognitive empathy and reducing their psychological distress for up to three weeks. Future research might use more rigorous methodologies, incorporating control groups and larger samples, to explore moderators of intervention efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104396
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume133
Early online date27 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

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