News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Q & A: Are there parent support groups that can help us care for our child with ASD?

JCCHD | Tue, June 05, 2012 | [Community][Q and A ]

Pyramid of support

Networking with other parents who can offer support and above all else understanding can be invaluable. There are many autism-related parent support groups online and in communities across the country that parents can get involved with; in fact, if you Google this question, you’ll get over 20,000,000 results.

Being a parent is challenging; being a parent of a child with ASD presents many additional challenges. Hours of speech, occupational and behavioral therapies, changes in family dynamic, and additional financial responsibilities are just some of the issues parents face. Reaching out to others can be a healthy and positive experience for all family members, including siblings and grandparents. Parents may also benefit from attending conferences and lectures, or joining the local special education political action committee.

Below are just a few of the nationally recognized organizations that might have local chapters, resources, and conferences in your area:

Autism Speaks
Autism Society of America
Autism Research Institute
The Arc
Easter Seals

Many of the national autism organizations listed above also have online support groups (listservs) or newsletters, and can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.  By searching Yahoo Groups for specific listservs in your areas of interest, you can join networks of parents both near you and around the world. 

Of course, not all sites or groups offer beneficial information. If you are new to the autism community, it is important to find groups that will help you answer the question, “What is autism and what does this diagnosis mean for my family?” If you are looking for additional support, it could be beneficial to find groups that will provide recommendations for accessing interventions your child needs to succeed. As a parent, it is also important to find support groups that will help strengthen relationships and empower all family members—family support can make all the difference in how a child responds to treatment. You might also choose to join groups that are geared toward specific topics, such as behavioral problems, advocacy, social skills, or adolescence.

Always exercise caution when navigating groups and listservs, as the information provided might not be accurate; just because someone sounds like they know what they’re talking about doesn’t mean they do. Parents should also remember that each child is different and might not respond to the same intervention. So while it may seem helpful to offer and receive suggestions, parents should always consult with their clinician before implementing any type of intervention or therapy, and should refrain from offering specific treatment advice to others. A good tip when looking for support groups is to find ones that have a significant number of members and frequent activity. You can also contact your therapist, physician, or The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you would like additional information on local support groups or options for community involvement.