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“The need for a retreat was supported by our practical experience with parents; our knowledge of supports that parents report as being most helpful; and our research on stressors impacting parents of children with ASD. Common stressors include a sense of isolation; challenges related to their child’s behavior; the need to explain autism to others; embarrassment in public; fatigue due to sleep deprivation; the impact of autism on familial relationships; and feelings of “not doing enough”, often resulting in chronic stress and uncertainty about the future. Helpful supports for parents include a good night of sleep; non-judgmental social support; opportunities to share experiences and establish relationships with other parents; and being able to let down, have fun, and not be “on” all the time. Moreover, the retreat setting provides a safe “we’re all in this together” context.”
The primary purpose of the annual Parent Retreat is to provide a relaxing and supportive environment for parents or caregivers to reflect on, explore, and share the rewards and challenges of raising a child with ASD. There will be opportunities for relaxation, discussion, networking, masking new friends, and learning from other parents, in a beautiful country setting with great food. Although there will be opportunities to learn, the format is that of a retreat, not a conference. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual.
“Evaluation questionnaires suggest that the retreat has become far more than a weekend “breather” from the stress and challenges of raising a child with ASD. Parents report sustained long-lasting effects, and some describe a remarkable impact. Parents who have attended more than one retreat indicate that it provides them with an opportunity to regularly reflect on the challenges and successes of the previous year; strengthen their marriages and family relationships; and establish new relationships (that often continue) with other parents.
In addition, it also enables not only the sharing of resources to cope with and address everyday challenges, but also encourages the development of new coping strategies so that they can return home with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.”
The Retreat is coordinated by Barry Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP and Elaine Meyer, Ph.D. Barry is a communication disorders specialist at Childhood Communication Services and has more than 40 years experience as a clinical scholar, consultant, researcher and program consultant to children and older persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and related developmental disabilities and their families. Elaine is a psychologist and family therapist who works with families of children with chronic illnesses and Boston Children's and Women and Infant's Hospitals. Elaine and Barry have presented many workshops and informal discussion groups for parents of children with disabilities.
The staff of Community Autism Resources will join Elaine and Barry in planning and facilitating the retreat.
From Saturday morning to Sunday after lunch, participants must commit to the full retreat (attendance for one day is not permitted). How you use your time is very flexible. A nominal fee is requested for the weekend. Funds to subsidize retreat expenses come from fundraising activities, donations and grants, and scholarships are available if finances might prohibit attendance.
*from the Autism Spectrum Quarterly article: Reflecting on the Journey