The stress parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have to endure is beyond description. To help reduce their anxiety and depression, as well as fight the stigma attached to this disorder, EdUHK’s Department of Psychology has recently launched the Mindful Living Project website, with the support of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund 2021.
Rising number of children with ASD
Over a decade, the number of children in Hong Kong with ASD increased significantly, according to data released by the Education Bureau in 2019. Local social welfare organisations estimate that, across all age groups, the number of people in Hong Kong who suffer from the disorder is between 118,000 and 130,000.
Dr Kevin Chan Ka-shing, head of the Department of Psychology, says children with ASD and their parents face various degrees of discrimination and pressure, which can easily place them under a cloud of negative emotions. Based on psychological theories, research data and intervention methods, he has designed an online platform to help treat them.
The platform provides information on mental health, and includes tests to help parents understand its importance, as well as assess and understand their own status. The website also offers free online courses on mindfulness and self-compassion, each comprising four units, with seven sections in each unit. Parents can help reduce stress and improve well-being by using its voice-assisted guidance for only 15 to 20 minutes each day for around a month.
Facing adversity with a positive mindset
“Parents can reduce conflict and improve relationships with their children, if, when spending time with them, they approach their experiences with an open and accepting attitude, care for themselves with empathy and compassion, and carefully listen to their children’s needs, while being mindful of each other’s emotions. Simultaneously, when they face adversity, they can be kind to themselves, understand that everyone has difficulties, and try not to blame themselves,” says Dr Chan.