Nostalgia Serves as a Psychological Resource for Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Study

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Katherine French


The current study examined whether nostalgia, a sentimental longing for the past, serves as a psychological resource for mothers of children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Twenty-six mothers of children with ASD were asked to complete measures of well-being during an initial visit. Over eight weeks, mothers were asked to write about their experiences with raising a child with ASD, which were coded for the use of nostalgic language. The results revealed that mothers who reported being lower in positive affect and parental well-being had increased nostalgic narratives over time. There were no significant findings for negative affect and life satisfaction. THis work provides a first step in understanding the relationship between nostalgia and mental health. Specifically, nostalgia may serve as a potential intervention to improve the well-being of parents and children with ASD. 

Comments from Mentors

Katherine served as a research assistant in my lab for close to two years. During this time, she made significant contributions to multiple projects and became one of our most dependable, competent research assistants. Katherine’s knowledge, experience, and understanding of psychological theory and research methods are on par with several first and second year graduate students. I have never come across a more knowledgeable, focused, and driven student. In the time that I worked with Katherine, she received two research grants (one local, one national), co-authored two manuscripts, presented at many conferences, and conducted several studies looking at the intersection between health and well-being. In addition to these competencies, Katherine is affable, enthusiastic, and is a joy to work with. She does what is asked of her with alacrity, asks critical questions along the way, and is willing to do extra work that comes up. Katherine gets along with just about everyone, and is well liked and respected by students and faculty alike. We have missed her greatly since her graduation in May of 2017.

 --Dr. Cathy Cox

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College of Science and Engineering