Autism Support Groups

Autism support groups can give people who have a child with autism, or have autism themselves, an opportunity to talk about their feelings and concerns in a safe environment.

Having a child diagnosed with autism can be a devastating experience for some parents and families. They may feel frustrated, confused, and afraid—they may even "grieve" for their "normal child." Personally, finding out my son had Asperger’s was a relief. We finally had a name for our pain. As we learn more, it is much less of a ‘pain’ than before we had any understanding of autism.

Living with autism presents many new challenges for the person with autism and for his or her family and friends. Initial concerns of many parents are listed below.
• They wonder if their child will be able to achieve
• Will their child be able to be independent
• Will their child be able to be happy and enjoy life.
• How the autism will affect them and their ability to live a normal life, that is, to care for their family and home, to hold a job, and to continue the friendships and activities they enjoy.
• Many people feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful, others feel helpless and defeated.

Friends and family members can be supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Don't wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let them know. They also have a learning process ahead of them.

Some people don't want to burden their loved ones, or they prefer talking about their concerns with a more-neutral professional. A family therapist, social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if you want to discuss your feelings and concerns about your child's autism. Your health care provider should be able to recommend someone.

Many people who have a child with autism are profoundly helped by talking to other people in the same situation. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for families affected by autism may be available through the organizations providing treatment and education for your child.

For information about autism support groups in their area for families with an autistic child, contact the following organizations:

Autism Society of America
National Alliance for Autism Research
The Source (MAAP Services)

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