Support and Community for Parents of Autistic Kids
A diagnosis of a PDD or other autism spectrum disorder will inevitably throw your family for a major loop – but it helps to know that you don’t have to face this disorder alone. From educating yourself to signing into Facebook to nationwide charity walks, there are an unending number of ways to connect with other families living with autism.
How to deal emotionally
It’s difficult to hear the news that your child has an autism spectrum disorder or PDD-NOS. As a parent you’ll confront symptoms of autism spectrum disorders on a daily basis, and it isn’t easy imagining the degree to which your life will change. Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, notes that the normal reaction to an autism diagnosis varies greatly: Parents may run through emotions such as shock, anger, denial, and grief before finally moving toward acceptance. Though this won’t be an easy time in your life, it helps to know that as a parent of a child with ASD, you aren’t alone. And there are ways to make life with autism more livable.
Life with autism: Tips to make your day-to-day live easier
- Start reading. Educate yourself. Read up on the disorder and local autism resources in your area and keep your eyes and ears open for other families’ stories. The more you know about ASD, the more in control you’ll feel of your child’s future and your own.
- Give yourself time. With an autism diagnosis, you may be mourning the loss of the future you imagined for your child, and that’s okay. Allow yourself time to grieve – and begin to construct an idea of a new future with opportunities for growth and support.
- Accept your child as he is. Your child’s autism is not going to go away. Instead of focusing on what makes him different from other children and worrying about what he might be missing, focus on your kid’s wonderful traits that make him unique.
- Stay positive. Having a child with a developmental disorder can be frustrating and difficult at times. You may grow weary of explaining your child’s condition to everyone you meet. There may be roadblocks in progress at school. Breathe, and repeat: it takes time. Understand that your child sees the world in a different way and remind yourself what a unique, interesting, wonderful individual he is.
- Encourage your child’s strengths and hobbies. Offer positive encouragement when your child shows progress during treatment or at home. If your child avoids the school playground but can spend hours in the backyard examining plants, help him save and categorize his favorites. Showing that you’re interested in him will build confidence and strengthen your bond.
Online support for autism
The web is a wealth of resources for parents of children on the spectrum. Online resources are excellent ways to find out about autism research, connect with other families, and spread awareness of the disorder. Here are some great ways to connect:
- Facebook fan pages. Stay up-to-date with autism charities and autism-related events by “liking” national and local autism groups. A great place to start is Babble’s list of the Top 30 Facebook Pages for Autism.
- Blogs. Blogs are a great way to find out about autism-related news and read personal accounts of families affected by autism. If you’re trying to decide which blogs to follow, Babble’s Top 25 Autism Blogs could help.
Twitter. Many autism advocacy organizations have taken to Twitter with gusto, which is great news for busy parents who depend on the social network for news and interaction with folks outside their own families. Here are some suggestions for great organizations to follow:
Autism Speaks, the powerhouse of the autism Twitter community with over 20,000 followers
Autism Votes, a branch of Autism Speaks that advocates for autism-related legislation
Autism Today, an author and mother of special needs children who blogs about autism spectrum news
Art Now for Autism, an online art exhibit and fundraiser for autism awareness and research
Dogs for Autism, a Twitter feed devoted to service dogs that give autistic children more independence and freedom