A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is hard for both your child and you. Autism symptoms can vary widely. Different 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 neurodiversity. 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 books, television shows and other ways for your other children to cope with their own feelings.
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:
- Poor communication skills
- Obsessive or repeated routines
- Physical clumsiness
Experts agree that the earlier a child starts therapy, the better the outcome often is.
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:
- iCan Dream Parent Support Group. The iCan Dream Foundation sponsors the iCan Dream Parent Support Program. This resource provides practical emotional support to our parents. This group is led by parent coach Lavelle Smith of MOMLogics. MOMLogics realizes that we are stronger together as a sisterhood of moms. Doing so allows us the opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths to make us all better parents. This support enhances the growth of our mothers (or fathers) and enriches our experience as parents.
- 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 diagnosis.
- 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 resource offers support for families and a listing of other online support groups.
- The Autism Society. This organization provides advocacy, education, information and referral, support, at national, state and local levels through our strong nationwide network of Affiliates.