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Self-compassion is a healthy way of relating to ourselves. Self-compassion involves being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or being too self-critical.

In a recent research study, we found Autistic adults experience lower self-compassion than non-Autistic adults. We also found that Autistic people with higher levels of self-compassion experience higher levels of wellbeing and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

This study will introduce Autistic adults to self-compassion concepts and skills using an online self-compassion training program developed by ARCAP. This program has been co-produced with an Autistic researcher and reviewed by a team of Autistic advisors.

Can a self-guided online training program build the self-compassion skills of Autistic adults?

The research

Participants will be asked to:

  • complete brief online surveys before and after the training program (approximately 85 minutes in total)
  • take part in the training program which will require completing an online module (approximately 30 minutes) once a week, across a five-week period. This will also include a 15-minute catch-up with a researcher each week (email, zoom, or phone)
  • make the most of the training program by practising a self-compassion skill for 15 minutes each day over these five weeks.

Who can take part?

The study is suitable for people in Australia who are:

  • Adults (18+) who have had a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This includes a diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (please note, a researcher will ask for a copy of your autism diagnostic report or confirmation letter); OR
  • Adults (18+) who self-identify as being Autistic and meet a minimum specific score on a self-report measure of their autistic traits (this measure is included in the suitability survey). While self-diagnosis is valid, high autistic traits on this measure are required for this specific research study.
  • Adults with low to moderate levels of self-compassion (this will be captured in the suitability survey).
  • Adults with access to the required technology – good internet connection, computer or laptop or tablet (not phone), audio outlet.
  • Adults who have not been diagnosed with a severe psychiatric condition (e.g., psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder). This study is also not suitable for people who have self-harm ideas or behaviours, or have recently initiated or stopped psychiatric medication or psychotherapy.
  • Adults without an intellectual disability.

How can I take part?

To take part in this study, complete the suitability questionnaire and a researcher will contact you.

Making a difference

This is the first research study to explore whether or not Autistic adults’ can learn self-compassion skills through a self-guided online self-compassion training program.

Research team

Dr Ru Ying Cai, ARCAP

Dr Chris Edwards, ARCAP






Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)