Oxygen Mask Episode 005: Why Do We Need an Oxygen Mask?


Why do we need an oxygen mask? How you parent your child matters for life! But autism is intense and challenging for our children and that makes parenting a unique challenge too. In this episode we dive into how we respond to these challenges and how to use your oxygen mask to respond in a healthier way. Reset your expectations, avoid the busy badge, embrace JOMO (joy of missing out), reframe how you view autism, get comfortable with uncertainty, stay in the present, and stop asking why. Recognize that it’s a lifelong journey and a spiral staircase of learning and adapting. 

What techniques have you used to put on your oxygen mask? What moments of noticing or mindfulness have given you pause? Do you have any mantras that get you through? What resonated with you in today’s episode?

Show notes:

1) Research on parent stress:

Hayes, S. A., & Watson, S. L. (2013). The Impact of Parenting Stress: A Meta-analysis of Studies Comparing the Experience of Parenting Stress in Parents of Children With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord, 43, 629-642. Link:  http://cds.web.unc.edu/files/2015/09/parentingstressandASD.pdf

  • In this article, the authors conduct secondary level research that’s one step away from the original research they’re reviewing. Their results and discussion are especially insightful. So are the background sections that discuss the specific questions and concerns that drive their inquiry on parental stress.
  • Important Note: As you read, remember that the authors need to establish a problem to argue for the importance of their research and its contribution to a larger conversation. In this case, the problem is parental stress and that problem is linked here to autism. We can take these broad strokes to be true for us (i.e. parenting a child with autism is uniquely stressful), but let’s be careful not to get swept up and become overwhelmed, helpless, or discouraged. CEA’s passion and the Oxygen Mask’s goal is to help parents find supportive ideas, relationships, and practices that build resilience. There’s also research on resilience that we’ll be sharing to better understand and celebrate the remarkable levels of resilience in families of children with ASD.  

2) A follow-up point on our conversation: Beth wanted to add something to Tera’s idea about not taking her son’s difficult words or actions personally and saying “oh, that’s autism.” Beth says, “To find empathy even when I’m hurting or upset, I remind myself, ‘He’s having a hard time,’ and ‘He’s showing me he’s struggling.’” Use whatever oxygen mask technique works best for you!

3) This interview with authors of “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” is powerful and worth a listen. In particular, the idea of “completing the stress cycle” through physical activity, connection, and creative expression (among others), add a helpful layer to some of the Oxygen Mask strategies we talk about here. 

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