Autism Support Groups
These days, people are more aware of autism than ever before. With that awareness comes a growing network of support and services designed to aid families with autistic children. A publication from several researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that providing families with follow-up services after the diagnosis is critical for the best possible outcomes. The publication went on to indicate that families who have access to a network of support gain the greatest benefit in reducing stress, adapting to the diagnosis, and navigating services and programs. The researchers analyzed responses from 55 parents who have autistic children. They found that 68% leaned on friends for support, while 93% requested advice and information from other families with an autistic child. After analyzing the responses, the researchers concluded that support groups are particularly helpful.
Benefits of a Support/Advocacy Group
So just what should you get out of a support group? The emotional support is critical, of course. Learning to adapt to the diagnosis is the first step toward being able to help your child. But support groups can also offer advice on local services and programs. You can ask other parents for recommendations for local speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other professionals who can help your child.
Support groups can also function as advocacy groups. Approaching a school district en masse with concrete ideas to better serve special needs children can be much more effective than calling the school superintendent on your own. And if the other parents in your support group share similar legal complaints, the state Department of Education may be more likely to take action.
Finding an Autism Support Group
These days, you can find so many resources with the click of a mouse. But it might also help to ask your child’s school district representatives, pediatrician and other healthcare professionals about local support groups and resources. Small support groups might not have a website.
You can also check the websites of national autism groups for support group locator tools. Check the resource list below.
Click on your state to find a comprehensive listing of special needs resources, from special education attorneys to support groups and more.
This website offers information on autism, therapies, safety facts, and family support. It includes a support group locator tool.
The Autism Society offers information on autism and advocacy issues.
This group is based in the U.K. They provide information and support to people with autism.
This Web page from the Autism Speaks website offers a lengthy list of resources that emphasize financial assistance.