Parents of children with autism and other developmental disabilities may experience increased stress, according to research.

Abram is a patient navigator at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She said that parents face many challenges when dealing with the challenges their children face, including self-regulation and communication skills. Duraiswamy co-facilitates a MIND Institute online self-care group and support group for parents of children with developmental disabilities and autistic disorders.

As parents, we have a duty to speak up for our children. Duraiswamy says that navigating the service system is one of the most difficult things parents will ever have to do.

She explains that parents should be mindful of this when they are deciding how to care for themselves, support each other, and show compassion. Regular mindfulness practices can also help boost resilience.

Duraiswamy shares tips on how to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life in this Q&A.

What is mindfulness?

This is the ability to be fully present and aware in any given moment. It involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment. It also allows you to develop a routine for self-care and get in touch.

Intention, attention, and attitude are the three components that make up mindfulness.

Tell someone that you are talking. I’m paying attention, and I intend to be present. But I have another thought. Then, I go back to my original intention and listen without judgment.

Credit: UC Davis

What is the role of mindfulness in parenting?

By paying attention to our children with intention and without judgment, we can help them self-regulate.

Sometimes I find being a parent challenging. Occasionally, I find it difficult to communicate with my child. When I am paying attention, my thoughts can be distracting and hinder communication with my son. Focusing on mindfulness allows me to listen to my child without being judgmental or with an attitude. This has been a great help on my journey.

What tools are available to help parents become more mindful?

  1. Breathing meditation: an exercise that helps you be more mindful You can do this anywhere, even in an elevator or a meeting. Focus on the breath—inhale and exhale. You will become more aware of both your breath and your body.

  2. Exercise: Five-sense exercise Imagine that you feel anxious and overwhelmed. Take five things with you. You can touch four of them. Three of them you can hear. You can also smell two. You can also taste one. You can do it. You must swallow.

  3. You can do this either lying down or sitting. Close your eyes and begin. You can begin by noting any sensations in your feet without judging them. Pay attention to your feet and ankles, as well as to your legs, hips, waistline, abdomen, chest, neck, and face.

Exercises that encourage mindful awareness can help us respond to situations by relying on our values rather than reacting to them or acting impulsively.

How often should I practice these techniques?

It is not necessary to schedule time for mindfulness. You can practice mindful awareness at any time. You can improve your skills by practicing. There will be days when you feel overwhelmed. You will experience times when you feel overwhelmed.

Support is crucial. Support groups like GET MINDFUL, which is a group for parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, can be helpful. Self-compassion is cultivated by focusing on three aspects: mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness to oneself.