Family Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder
A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is hard for both your child and you.
Autism symptoms can vary widely. Odd or incorrect behaviors, problems with communication,
and repeated routines and rituals are all linked to ASD. This can make life hard for
the entire family. Some children with ASD are less affected than others.
The importance of support
Parents of a child with ASD must have a good support system in place. This will help
your child cope with the unique aspects of his or her disorder. It will also help
you learn how to manage your feelings when faced with the challenges of raising a
child with ASD. Pay special attention to the needs of other children in the family.
Sometimes siblings' needs get lost when so much attention is needed by the child with
ASD. Spend one-to-one time with your other children. Look for sibling support groups
that can provide a safe place for them to talk and share their feelings and fears.
Part of this support will come from the healthcare team that is treating your child
and educating you as a parent. There is no cure for ASD. But most children can lead
a happy, productive life by taking part in therapy. Therapy addresses the 3 main symptoms
of the disorder:
Experts agree that the earlier a child starts therapy, the better the outcome often
Support for parents
Parents also benefit from a strong support network. The term Asperger syndrome is
no longer used to describe higher-functioning people with ASD in the U.S. But you
may still find the following support groups helpful:
Autism Speaks. This nationally recognized organization provides information for parents of newly
diagnosed children. This includes app reviews, resources for children with ASD, and
a 100-Day Kit with a step-by-step guide of what to do in the 100 days after an autism
GRASP (Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership). This group provides community outreach, online support, education, and advocacy for
teens and adults on the autism spectrum. Membership is free.
ASPEN (The Asperger Syndrome Education Network). This New Jersey-based resource offers support for families and a listing of other
online support groups.
Asperger/Autism Network. This group is based in Massachusetts, with an office in New York City. It hosts activities
and provides online support.