A mindfulness-based intervention for aggressive boys with mild intellectual disabilities
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Background: Challenging behavior interferes with the development of adaptive behavior and social relationships. For children with mild intellectual disabilities untreated aggressive behavior can lead to long-time institutionalisation, social isolation, physical restraint and over-use of medication. Mindfulness is a cognitive-behavioral therapy based on the awareness and non-judgemental acceptance by a clear, calm mind of one’s moment-to-moment experience, without either pursuing the experience or pushing it away. Recent literature suggests that Mindfulness can be effective in aggression regulation for (young) adults with a intellectual disability. Aim: In this study we examine the specific effects of Mindfullness training in levels of aggression in boys with a mild intellectual disability. Method: Four boys (8 to 11) with a mild intellectual disability participated in a multiple-baseline design on the effect of a mindfulness –based intervention to reduce severe acts of aggression. Each boy had shown uncontrolled verbal and physical aggression towards other group members or staff members. They participated in a four-phase study: a non-training baseline phase (A), a non-specific treatment phase (B), a specific Mindfulness treatment phase (C) and a non-training phase (D). Verbal and combined verbal/ physical acts per hour of the boys are recorded to determine the overall levels of aggression during the several phases. Results: Results from the Monte Carlo Permutation Test showed that for three of the four boys the mean aggression levels in treatment phases B and C had decreased significantly compared to phase A. In raw means all four of the boys show a positive change in aggression levels. There were, however, no significant differences in the levels of aggression between the two treatment phases. Conclusion: This study states a moderate optimistic effect, which is not due to the Mindfulness training, as already during the non-specific treatment phase B the aggression levels decreased significantly. Effects seem due to the attention effect (the Dodo Bird Verdict), instead of the specific training effect.