14 episodes

Your child was just diagnosed with autism. Now what?



Like they tell you during the airline flight instructions, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you don’t, you’ll be of no help to anyone. This podcast series is meant to be that oxygen mask: a breath of fresh air and a pause for parents who are navigating their journey with autism or other developmental differences.



Hosted by Beth Dierker, Executive Director of Communities for Engaging Autism, and Tera Girardin, author & photographer of “Faces of Autism.” Both are University of Minnesota LEND Fellows (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) and are autism parents themselves.



Themes include self-care while caring for others, becoming an advocate for your child, relationship strains, avoiding burnout and information overload, and learning to trust your internal compass. Listeners will enjoy the conversational approach and connection to resources and connection points. The Oxygen Mask is ideal for the parent of a newly diagnosed child wading through information and decisions that come along with an autism diagnosis.



Take a breath with us!

The Oxygen Mask Podcast Communities Engaging Autism - Beth Dierker and Tera Girardin

    • Education for Kids
    • 5.0, 6 Ratings

Your child was just diagnosed with autism. Now what?



Like they tell you during the airline flight instructions, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you don’t, you’ll be of no help to anyone. This podcast series is meant to be that oxygen mask: a breath of fresh air and a pause for parents who are navigating their journey with autism or other developmental differences.



Hosted by Beth Dierker, Executive Director of Communities for Engaging Autism, and Tera Girardin, author & photographer of “Faces of Autism.” Both are University of Minnesota LEND Fellows (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) and are autism parents themselves.



Themes include self-care while caring for others, becoming an advocate for your child, relationship strains, avoiding burnout and information overload, and learning to trust your internal compass. Listeners will enjoy the conversational approach and connection to resources and connection points. The Oxygen Mask is ideal for the parent of a newly diagnosed child wading through information and decisions that come along with an autism diagnosis.



Take a breath with us!

    Oxygen Mask Episode 12: Noticing, nurturing strengths

    Oxygen Mask Episode 12: Noticing, nurturing strengths

    Episode 12 comes to you during a challenging time for all of us in this COVID-19 pandemic. Tera and Beth acknowledge the brain fog, fatigue, intensity, and interruptions that are weighing on us all. We have slowed down and are trying, daily, to be more flexible and gentle with ourselves and our families. That’s why our April podcast is finally showing up in May! Please extend these friendly attitudes to yourself as well. When you have found some rest and space, we hope that Episode 12 plants a seed of gratitude and appreciation as we talk about nurturing a strengths-based lens with our kids and our whole families.



    Show Notes:



    Book: Just Give Him the Whale! by Paula Kluth and Patrick Schwarz

    • 25 min
    Oxygen Mask Episode 011: Welcoming guests, unpacking mindfulness

    Oxygen Mask Episode 011: Welcoming guests, unpacking mindfulness

    In Episode 11, we warmly welcome our first guests, Kate Biederman and Jen Reiter, who have deeply shaped Communities Engaging Autism's mindfulness course*. In this rich conversation, Beth, Jen, Kate and Tera unpack what mindfulness really is and the growth they've seen in themselves and others through practice.



    *Our Spring 2020 course has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To stay informed of future offerings, subscribe to the podcast or visit our website to subscribe to CEA's newsletter.



    Key quote: "People don't have less stress in their life...they're just more equipped and resourced to handle what comes." - Kate Biederman



    Key points:



    Defining mindfulness; noticing is powerful

    Anchoring your attention in your body; being present in the moment

    Consistency is key in growing self-awareness; do simple things, daily

    Practicing in community with other parents is powerful



    Show notes: 



    LEND Fellowship



    Communities Engaging Autism's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course for Parents of Kids with Special Needs



    Jon Kabat-Zinn



    Sebastian Gendry



    Book: How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh

    • 28 min
    Oxygen Mask Episode 010: Appreciate the good

    Oxygen Mask Episode 010: Appreciate the good

    Join us in offering yourself a little love this February! In Episode 10, Tera and Beth recall positive, encouraging words and actions from people who have come alongside us and our families. These are beautiful moments that let us know we are seen and that our children are known and valued. Draw from our stories to recognize your own. Hold them up, have a good look at them, and thread them into a story of hope and encouragement. Take a listen and let this episode awaken or enliven your own gratitude.



    Take-aways from this episode are really interwoven with Communities Engaging Autism's 7-week course, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Parents of Kids with Special Needs. There, we talk about the brain's negativity bias (as Rick Hanson puts it, the good slips off as if on Teflon and the bad sticks like Velcro). It takes intention to balance out our brain's defaults. The seeds that you water are the ones that grow; the muscles that you work are the ones that get stronger. Another offering begins April 7, 2020. Click here for details.



    Each day this month, jot down a few specific, positive things people have said to you, ways others' actions have encouraged you, or just positive, peaceful, or joyful moments in your day. Oh, and there's an app for that. Three Good Things is a gratitude practice builder that's gentle and simple.

    • 25 min
    Oxygen Mask Episode 009: Holiday Strategies & Solidarity

    Oxygen Mask Episode 009: Holiday Strategies & Solidarity

    We hope you’ll take a moment amidst the holiday flurry to breathe, listen, and be encouraged. In Episode 9, we acknowledge the many ways that family gatherings are a lot for us and our kids and we talk through ways we can navigate:



    Expectations! Ours own, those of others, those spoken, those unspoken, and those we imagine

    Boundaries that are healthy for us and our children; respecting how your child copes

    Identifying the most challenging activities and/or those with the most set expectations (i.e. large sit down dinners) and “bookending” that event with activities that are restorative for your child and meet his/her needs for down time or sensory input



    Drawing from mindfulness principles, we challenge you to notice the stories you tell yourself as you engage with your larger family and friend circles. If a story of “not enough” with a side of shame or guilt is present, we encourage you to nudge your story toward self-acceptance and acceptance and celebration of the family you have formed. Remember, you’re not doing this alone—Tera, Beth, and many other special needs parents are right there with you. Best wishes for a peaceful time of togetherness and much rest afterwards!



    Show Notes:



    Beth mentioned Communities Engaging Autism’s course: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Parents of Kids with Special Needs. Here’s information about our fall 2019 session. A late spring offering of the course will be announced soon. Scholarships available.

    • 31 min
    Oxygen Mask Episode 008: Curveballs

    Oxygen Mask Episode 008: Curveballs

    The Oxygen Mask is back! Have you experienced a few curveballs in life when unexpected circumstances challenge you, forcing you to focus on one step at a time? This is often the time when routines or expectations that ground us slip away and we find ourselves more than maxed out. In Episode 8, which was recorded last fall, we reflect on curveballs that life has thrown our way and how we, fumblingly, do the best we can to respond and find our way through. Discussion points include:



    How have you helped your child make sense of situations like the death of a loved one or a big life change when you are struggling yourself? 

    What are some of your signs that you’re at your maximum capacity (or beyond)?

    How can we respond when we react in ways we regret? 

    What are our kids’ cues that they’re near or beyond capacity to manage uncertainty and stress too?   



    Show Notes:



    1) “Size of the problem” resource and guidance



    2) “Expected and unexpected”: Why do we Use the Expected-Unexpected Social Thinking Vocabulary?; Youtube Video on Activity for Expected vs Unexpected

    • 35 min
    Oxygen Mask Episode 007: Your Relationships Matter!

    Oxygen Mask Episode 007: Your Relationships Matter!

    Oxygen Mask is back after a summer breather!! In this episode, we talk about the importance of relationships to sustain and grow us as individuals. We reflect on friendships that have become anchors through tumultuous years. We discuss questions like:



    What have supportive, essential friendships looked like over the years?



    What relationship dynamics should we watch out for as special needs parents?



    As always, we encourage you to trust the process when it comes to friendship. Reach out and let us know what makes a great, growing friendship for you and, very importantly, let us know if you’re feeling disconnected. Info@cea4autism.org



    Show Notes:



    1. We mentioned some support group resources, emphasizing that the way groups are run is really important for a healthy dynamic. Here is a Resource Sheet on Minneapolis/St. Paul support group opportunities from Communities Engaging Autism’s website. There is so much more than what’s here, but this is a start!



    2. Shared interests and pursuits are a great way to begin a friendship. This fall, Communities Engaging Autism is offering a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course specifically created for parents of kids with special needs. In the past, our participants have enjoyed a sense of solidarity and mutual support as they seek to improve their overall wellbeing through mindfulness practice. Learn more >>

    • 30 min

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6 Ratings

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