It is with sadness and also hope that we share that Communities Engaging Autism is closing after nearly 10 years serving families living with autism. Although CEA found its way through COVID with persistence and a focus on connecting families, we emerge unable to continue our work because of financial challenges. The timing is especially difficult, as many of the “seeds” we’ve planted—from Parent Growth Circles and Family Playgrounds to the Oxygen Mask Podcast—have begun to flourish. Our Executive Director will spend the coming months taking the steps toward dissolution while also working to ensure that some of CEA’s programs, online content, and other assets will continue to be available to families through other organizations and platforms.
In typical Minnesota fashion, we are saying goodbye while also wanting to keep the conversation going. So, here is a more thoughtful, hopeful, and extended version of our farewell:
Looking back on the seeds we’ve planted
It’s been an honor to connect young families living with autism to the information, strategies and support they need to engage fully in their homes, schools and communities. CEA has provided educational lectures, blog posts, trainings, support groups, book reads, and mindfulness classes. It is a joy to see the many ways that communities are more accessible to autistic children and their families. We see sensory-friendly offerings in more community spaces and venues. We affirm the sustained commitment of educators and professionals serving families. We celebrate the readiness of parents to learn about autism in order to better connect with and understand their children.
Nourishing a notion
Now, we especially want to pour some extra nourishment on the notion that first sprouted CEA-your relationship with your child matters most. Continue to playfully engage with your child, observe them with curiosity and joy, fuel their passions and strengths. Take a breath. Pause. Notice how these moments feel to you. How does your child respond? Use your observations as a guide to help you discern what information, strategies, and supports are promising for you and yours.
Remember, your family’s growth will look different because of autism-because you are observing, accepting, adapting, and drawing in extra help as needed throughout your child’s life. Your family’s growth, uneven and unpredictable as it may feel, is an illustration of resilience. Relationships within and beyond your family nourish you in times of strain and enable you to recover better equipped for what’s ahead.
All of us at CEA are committed to the work of supporting and empowering autistic children and their families. We will stay connected in our own ways to the important work we have begun together.
CEA Board of Directors, Mary Bergaas, Katrina Kramlich, Katie Plunkett, Mary Powell, Joan Schoepke, and Amy Wink and Executive Director, Beth Dierker