Gratitude and Updates


Happy Thanksgiving! On behalf of Communities Engaging Autism, I want to express our gratitude for your support and involvement this year. CEA is poised for growth and we are excited to be connecting with so many of you as we shape our next steps. This post is both a gratitude practice and update on our latest activities.

  • Ale for Autism: Thank you for joining us! We were very pleased to see over 50 people at Pryes Brewing. We raised over $3,000! As CEA’s new Executive Director, it was a pleasure to get to know longtime friends of CEA and welcome newbies into the fold as well. Thank you so much to our generous donors!!
  • Mindfulness: Our course, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Parents of Kids with Special Needs, kicked off its fall session with 10 participants. Together, we have rooted down into powerful practices and gentle support. We’re grateful for each participant’s contribution and to St. David’s Center for sharing their space. Thank you to our facilitators, Kate Biederman and Amy Wink, for welcoming and guiding me as a new facilitator. We are excited to continue growing this program as we plan a Spring 2020 session and train additional facilitators.
  • Oxygen Mask Podcast: We are grateful for the positive responses we’ve heard from parents and professionals alike. As co-hosts, Tera and I often remind ourselves and fellow parents of kids with special needs: You are not alone and your wellbeing matters! Thank you to Tera Girardin for making this healthy resource possible. We look forward to welcoming featured guests to the podcast in 2020!
  • Fellowship Collaboration: As a community partner with the University of Minnesota’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilites (LEND) Fellowship Program, CEA has engaged three fellows to strengthen and inform our mindfulness work. Thank you, Adam Langenfeld, Muna Khalif, and Jen Reiter for listening, learning, and contributing from each of your unique backgrounds and experiences.
  • Family Offerings: Over the past year, we’ve experimented with family meetups at local parks. We’ve paused this winter to regroup and we look forward to growing whole family offerings for education and community-building. We are so grateful to Minneapolis Parks and Recreation’s Adaptive Recreation staff and Eloise Butler Flower Garden for collaborating with us on two wonderful meetup events.

In closing, I’ll share a metaphor that may resonate with you. We’ve talked in mindfulness about being open and accepting of our difficult emotions as they come and go instead of holding on tight and fueling them. I envision an open, relaxed hand compared to a closed, grasping fist. This metaphor informs my leadership of CEA as well. I enjoy offering up our strengths openly and flexibly. I am energized by exploring relationships based in trust and shared vision. It has been a pleasure to live into our strengths this past year and build on them with so many inspired partners and community members. So, with joy and enthusiasm, I welcome you to share your voice, insights, and guidance with me and with CEA. Thank you so much!


Beth Dierker

Executive Director, Communities Engaging Autism


Author: Beth

Beth is a wife, mother, researcher and connector. She has two elementary-aged kids, one who is differently wired with autism. Beth has done graduate work and consulting related to youth development and community engagement. She loves advocating for authentic community engagement and contributions of kids and families impacted by autism. She lives in Hopkins, MN.

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