Category Archives: Autism Videos at ACT

Combating Compassion Fatigue for Families and Caregivers of Children with Special Needs

Filmed October 2020

Caring for children is frequently exhausting. Parenting children with special needs is even more demanding of families, compounded by the need to navigate and advocate across systems. Driven by love, these families are at high-risk of neglecting themselves and developing compassion fatigue. In this 13-part workshop we begin by exploring the “costs of caring” and its potential physical and emotional toll. Then we consider research supported strategies that can empower families and build their resistance to ward off compassion fatigue. Systems supports, self-care, and mindful self-compassion are featured.

Georgina Robinson, PhD, Certified School Psychologist

Principal, Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders (POPARD)

Georgina has a doctoral degree in educational and counselling psychology from the University of British Columbia. She is the Principal of the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders (POPARD) and is an adjunct faculty member at UBC. Georgina has over 20 years of clinical experience supporting both adults and children and is committed to supporting caregivers who are at risk for compassion fatigue.

Georgina has had training, supervision and experience and is considered a qualified teacher in several evidence-based mindfulness-based interventions including Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT; Oxford University Mindfulness Centre) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion). Georgina’s work with families who have children with ASD is informed both by her professional qualifications as well as her lived experience as a parent of two boys, one with ASD.

Part 1: Introduction & Setting the Stage

Topics Covered: 
  • Caregiver stress and coping
  • Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (stress is influenced across systems)
  • Identifying your sources of stress

Part 2: Identifying Stressors

Topics Covered: 
  • Stressors identified by caregivers of children with disabilities
  • Stigma and shame

Part 3: Compassion/Caregiver Satisfaction & Compassion Fatigue

Topics Covered: 
  • What is compassion and compassion fatigue?
  • Identifying where you are on the stages of compassion fatigue

Part 4: Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue & Protective Factors

Topics Covered: 
  • Caregiver reslience
  • Protective factors across systems
  • Benefits of family-centered care

Part 5: Parent to Parent Supports & Characteristics of Resilient Parents

Topics Covered: 
  • The benefits of parent to parent support
  • The Parent perspective from: The Institute of Families for child and Youth Mental Health (Family Smart)
  • Learning to Let it Go (video)

Part 6: Characteristics of Resilient Parents

Topics Covered: 
  • Social supports
  • Resilient ways of thinking and behaving
  • Awareness and Mindfulness
  • Identifying your protectors

Part 7: Components of Self-Care

Topics Covered: 
  • Why consider self-care
  • Caring for the body (physical)
  • Nurturing relationships (social/interpersonal)
  • Managing and appreciating your work

Part 8: Components of Self-Care (cont’d)

Topics Covered: 
  • Managing and appreciating your work (cont’d)
  • Making time for what’s important to you (personal)
  • Minding your mind (Psychological/Emotional)
  • Thnx4: Online, shareable gratitude journal

Part 9: Learning to Appreciate What You Already Have

Topics Covered: 

Part 10: An Introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC)

Topics Covered: 

Part 11: Practicing Mindfulness in Daily Life

Topics Covered: 
  • What is mindfulness?
  • Contrast with mindlessness
  • Sense and savour: The calming power of nature
  • Daily pleasant experiences tracker

Part 12: Making Time for Self-Compassion

Topics Covered: 

Part 13: Model of Emotion Regulation

Topics Covered: 
  • Paul Gilbert’s model of emotion regulation
    • Drive system, soothing system, and threat system
  • Responding to yourself with kindness
  • Affectionate breathing practice


Questions about the presentation or MSC?

 Visit Dr. Georgina Robinson’s site Mindful Self-Compassion for Life.


Where to Learn More About Mindful Self-Compassion

Selected Sources of Research on Mindfulness-Based Intervention (MBI)

Practical Tips for Helping Families Reduce Stress

Parents of children with developmental disabilities experience higher levels of stress than parents of typically developing children. During the current pandemic, these feelings of stress have been further heightened for the many parents who are getting few breaks as they care for their children. In this webinar, a structured discussion between Dr. Fawcett and Dr. Anthony Bailey, Susan will provide some practical tips and strategies to help parents reduce their stress, including a discussion of the importance of self-care, cognitive reframing strategies, and a mindfulness practice.

This webinar is relevant to parents with children of all ages who have developmental disabilities of varying types (e.g., autism, Down syndrome).


Susan Fawcett, PhD, RSLP Director of Therapy, Behaviour & Family Support at the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation

Anthony Bailey, M.D., Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of British Columbia

Supplemental Resources:

Practical Tips for Helping Families Reduce Stress Handout

Video Sponsor

The production of this video has been sponsored by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia.

ACT is gathering information to support families during the COVID-19 crisis, including resources specific to those who are neuro-diverse and useful general resources. Our COVID-19 Resources page will be updated as new resources come in.

More videos from ACT’s COVID-19 educational learning live stream series

Many parents of children with diverse learning needs are feeling particularly pressured to keep up educational programs during this crisis, even though they have little support to do so. This is increasing stress on many overwhelmed families. This conversation between two school psychologists and a child psychiatrist will focus on the practical, to reassure families on how formal and informal learning can happen on the home front.

Video & Resources

COVID-19 has profoundly heightened anxiety in the autism community internationally. Our families and organizations are struggling to provide a stable environment for children, youth and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Able adults with ASD are also feeling the strain. ACT has invited three respected mental health clinicians, who have presented for ACT on autism and mental health, to answer questions on ‘Anxiety and COVID-19’.

Video & Resources