Family Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder

A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is difficult for both your child and you. Some children with autism spectrum disorder have a lesser degree of impairment than others, odd or inappropriate behaviors, problems with communication, and repetitive routines and rituals that accompany autism spectrum disorder can make life challenging for the entire family.

The importance of support

It's critical that parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder have a good support system in place. This will not only help your child cope with the unique aspects of his or her disorder, and will also help you learn how to manage your feelings and emotions when faced with the challenges of raising a child with the condition.

Part of this support will come from the team of health care professionals treating your child and educating you as the parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder. Although autism spectrum disorder can't be cured, most children can lead a happy, productive life by taking part in therapy. Therapy addresses the three core symptoms of the disorder: poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness. Experts agree that the earlier this intervention starts, the better the outcome usually is.

Support for parents

Although children need support and treatment to navigate this confusing and frustrating condition, you too will benefit from a strong network of support. Current guidelines on the diagnosis and classification of mental disorders no longer uses the term Asperger syndrome to describe higher-functioning persons with autism spectrum disorder. However, you may still find the following support groups helpful.

  • Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support center. The website has a database of support groups searchable by where you live. Support groups include treatment and therapy groups for children with Asperger syndrome, as well as support groups for parents. 

  • GRASP. The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership was create to improve the lives of adults and teens on the autism spectrum through community outreach, online support, education, and advocacy. Membership is free.

  • Wrong Planet. This is an internet community offering support to individuals, parents, and professionals with Asperger syndrome, ADHD, and other neurological conditions. Resources include a discussion forum, a library of articles, blogs, and a chat room.

  • ASPEN. The Asperger Syndrome Education Network is a New Jersey-based resource offering support for families, as well as a listing of other online support groups.

  • Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association. This group reaches people in New York City and throughout Long Island, N.Y., with local activities and events and online support.