A whole new way to engage autism

Welcome parents, caregivers, and professionals! Our new nonprofit invites your engagement in services that provide support, guidance, and education. We’re here to empower young families living with autism.

Your relationship with your child is so important to his social and emotional well being — now and throughout his lifetime. You spend the most time living with and loving your child. You have the greatest commitment to his development and lifelong happiness. But autism can make it hard to connect with your child. And because each child expresses autism in an individual way, it can be a confusing, frustrating, and time consuming process to find ways to support your child’s specific needs. We know. We’re there too.

We believe that parents are the key to lifelong success for children living with autism. It is, after all, a diagnosis that involves the whole family. Our volunteer board of directors, our writers and our presenters are all personally engaged with autism. It is this personal connection that fuels our passion for sharing, with you, what we know. We are dedicated to building bridges between research, practice and everyday life. It is at this center that engagement, true engagement, begins.

Here, families are the center. We offer education from experts,  how the latest research affects your family, and strategies that benefit your child. And we’re always looking for ways to grow. Explore with us the many possibilities of living with autism.

We’re here to help foster your child’s growth and development – and realize the joy of nurturing your child. Join our blog where we provide a place for everyone to learn and grow.

Thoughts? Post 'em.

The Sensitive Storytime Movement

We’re so proud of the growing Sensitive Storytime™ movement in our community. Thanks to our amazing partner libraries – Stillwater Library, Hennepin County Library, Carver County Library, and MELSA.

Two years ago, CEA received a grant from the MN Department of Education. The goal of that grant was to bring literacy tools to parents living with autism. So often, children with autism struggle with literacy, and we were inspired by the research we found that linked Shared Reading, a specific way parents can read to their child, to big gains in language development.

For us, sharing these literacy tools and the other ways that books can address areas in which families with autism struggle was a passion and a big part of our mission. So we developed a robust training for parents and educators that would teach them how to use literacy as a tool for engagement and also how to fully engage children in literacy.

Out of this passion came the idea to bring Sensitive Storytimes™ to Minnesota libraries. We partnered with Hennepin County librarians who helped us developed a training for youth librarians called, Designing a Sensitive Storytime™. Since that initial training, we have presented and consulted with many metro area libraries, created resource boards on Pinterest and shared our expertise in hopes that families living with autism will be fully engaged in their local libraries.

The response has been wonderful! Since this story appeared in the Star Tribune on November 1, we have seen a growth in interest from other library systems, and we hope that soon all libraries will host a Sensitive Storytime™ for their community.

If you host a Sensitive Storytime™, let us know, and we will post it on our community events feed. Or if you are interested in learning more about the Sensitive Storytime™ movement, contact us!

It is through programs like these that we enrich lives, engage families and open up possibilities.

Yoga and Autism: Emotional Regulation

Our final class in our summer yoga series focused on emotional regulation. Given the timing – weeks (or days) before the start of a new school year – parents were eager to learn all they could to move their child (and themselves) into a calmer place.

First, the class learned that when we are happy, our breathing is rhythmic, and when we are stressed it is irregular and interrupted. The fastest way to calm the mind is through the breath, so focusing all calming strategies on learning good breathing techniques is the first priority.

Breathing Techniques for Kids

  1. “HA” breath – take a deep breath while reaching your arms up. Sigh the breath out with a “HAAAA” as you bring your hands in front of your belly.
  2. Puppy breath for anger – place your palms up in front of you, stick your tongue out and beat like a puppy (panting).
  3. Lion’s breath for anger – come onto your knees, rock forward, landing on your hands as you stick your tongue out and say “AAAHHHHH” like a lion.
  4. Other calming techniques – blowing bubbles, blowing out “candles” (use your finger as the candle), create a balloon belly by blowing up your belly like a balloon, alternate nostril breathing

We then learned a series of yoga poses designed for emotional regulation. The most important pose for calming is forward fold. Combining that pose with lion’s breathe and a terrific, in-the-moment calming strategy. While standing, take a deep breath in, release the breathe in a lion “AAAHHHH” while folding forward and swing your arms back and forth. Repeat if necessary.

Interested in a family yoga class? Take our survey and let us know, so we can design one that meets your needs!

Join us for our next Lecture Series class – Autism and Language Arts on September 28!


Thoughts? Post 'em.