Self-compassion and psychological distress in parents of young people and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities

J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2018 May;31(3):454-458. doi: 10.1111/jar.12423. Epub 2017 Nov 9.


Background: Parenting an individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) can be challenging, particularly during adulthood. It is important to better understand ways of supporting families as individuals with IDD age. Self-compassion is a potential internal coping resource for parents, and is strongly linked to positive mental health outcomes, though research has yet to examine it in parents of adults with IDD.

Method: The current study examines the association between self-compassion and measures of well-being for 56 parents of adults with IDD.

Results: Greater self-compassion was related to lower levels of stress and depression, even after accounting for other known stressors, such as economic disadvantage, having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, and high parent burden.

Conclusions: Self-compassion may offer resiliency against these parenting challenges.

Keywords: developmental disabilities; intellectual disabilities; mental health; mindfulness; parents; self-compassion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Children
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Developmental Disabilities*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult