Self-compassion mitigates the cognitive, affective, and social impact of courtesy stigma on parents of autistic children

Ka Shing Kevin CHAN, Winnie Tsz Wa FUNG, Donald Chi Kin LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Due to the courtesy stigma of autism spectrum disorder, many parents of autistic children are devaluated and discriminated against by the public. Despite the high prevalence of this courtesy stigma, very few studies have examined its negative effects on parents of autistic children and explored the factors that may protect the parents from these negative effects. The present study utilized a 2-year, two-wave prospective longitudinal design to examine the associations of courtesy stigma with adverse cognitive (self-stigma), affective (depressive and anxiety symptoms), and social (parent–child and inter-parental conflicts) consequences for parents of autistic children and to test whether these associations would be moderated and mitigated by self-compassion. 

Methods: A total of 381 parents of autistic children completed questionnaires about courtesy stigma, self-compassion, self-stigma, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and parent–child and inter-parental conflicts at time 1 (T1) and time 2 (T2). 

Results: Courtesy stigma interacted with self-compassion at T1 in predicting self-stigma, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and parent–child and inter-parental conflicts at T2. Specifically, the associations of courtesy stigma with the adverse psychological consequences were weaker for parents with high self-compassion than for those with low self-compassion. 

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate the prospective associations of courtesy stigma with adverse cognitive, affective, and social consequences for parents of autistic children, as well as the protective effects of self-compassion against such associations. These results highlight the importance of increasing parents’ self-compassion to help them cope with courtesy stigma and improve their psychological well-being. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1649-1660
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume58
Early online dateDec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Citation

Chan, K. K. S., Fung, W. T. W., & Leung, D. C. K. (2023). Self-compassion mitigates the cognitive, affective, and social impact of courtesy stigma on parents of autistic children. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 58, 1649-1660. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-022-02413-9

Keywords

  • Courtesy stigma
  • Self-compassion
  • Self-stigma
  • Depressive and anxiety symptoms
  • Parent–child and inter-parental conflicts
  • PG student publication

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