ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202104.0340.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: savouring; affect; anxiety; mothers; autism spectrum disorder; ASD
Online: 13 April 2021 (10:22:26 CEST)
Savouring is an emotion regulation strategy and intervention that focuses on the process of attending, intensifying and prolonging positive experiences and positive affect associated with these memories. Personal savouring involves a reflection on positive memories that are specific to the individual and do not involve others. In contrast, relational savouring entails reflecting on instances when people were responsive to the needs of their significant others. Such interventions hold potential to benefit parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Mothers of children with ASD tend to experience higher anxiety, lower positive affect (PA) and more negative affect (NA) compared to mothers of neurotypical children, leading to a diminished overall well-being. Moreover, ASD has multiplied by up to four times in the recent decade. Thus, this paper investigates whether savouring may enhance the overall well-being of mothers of young children with ASD by increasing positive affect and decreasing negative affect. 52 mothers of neurotypical children and 26 mothers of children with ASD aged 3-7 years old were given a series of questionnaires and randomly assigned to either relational savouring or personal savouring conditions. In relational savouring, mothers were asked to reflect upon a shared positive experience with their child while in the personal savouring condition, a personal positive experience was recalled. Across mothers of children with ASD and neurotypical children, findings suggest that savouring leads to a decrease in NA (p < .01) but not increases in PA. Similarly, mothers with higher levels of anxiety experience a greater decrease in NA (p < .001) compared to mothers with lower levels of anxiety post-savouring. This study proposes that a brief savouring intervention may be effective among mothers of preschoolers. As lower levels of negative affect is linked to healthier psychological well-being, mothers might be able to engage in more effective and warm parenting after savouring exercises, which would cultivate positive mother-child relationships that benefit their children in the long-term.