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Oxygen Mask Episode 17: Dads of Kids with Special Needs


In this episode, we hear from two men who’ve lead a support group for dads of kids with special needs for over 15 years. Impacted by one father’s isolation and struggle as he processed his child’s diagnosis, Don Nikkola, MSW, knew this father was not  alone. He partnered with Steve Roeklein, LCSW, to address a big gap in peer support for men. Steven later summarized their approach as follows: validate [what men share], normalize [men’s experience/”you’re not alone”], empower [men to engage and grow]. Hear how this group of fathers helps each other navigate their unique fatherhood journeys.

Show Notes: 

Learn more about Twin Cities Dads (Helping fathers help their special kids) at https://tcdads.org/

Note: Don and Steve expressed appreciation for Arc Minnesota’s past sponsorship of their group.


This Oxygen Mask Episode was made possible by an Family Connections Innovation Grant from the MN Department of Human Services. Communities Engaging Autism is grateful for this financial support.

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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