Parenting any special needs child can feel lonely and isolating. You may have already built a solid network of “mom friends”, and have tons of people in your corner, yet following your child’s ASD diagnosis (or even awaiting a diagnosis), it doesn’t feel like enough.
As empathetic as a friend might be, they likely don’t understand the challenges you face daily with your child on the autism spectrum. Their minds are occupied with their children’s own struggles, their schedules fill with extracurricular activities while your schedule is packed with therapies, and they may lack a full understanding of autism spectrum disorder.
Forming or joining a community of parents of children with autism can feel like a turning point. Suddenly, you have a place to vent your frustrations and be heard, somewhere to find out what other people have done to solve problems you are experiencing, and somewhere you feel like you actually fit.
If you already know you are ready to connect with other parents of children with autism, take a look at these tips to help get started.
1. Search for Existing Support Groups
Conducting a simple google search will lead you to various groups for parents of children on the autism spectrum. However, there are multiple kinds of groups to choose from: educational groups that give parents information specific to children with ASD, autism advocacy groups, and groups led by fellow parents looking to connect.
Joining a support group, either online through social media or in-person, or a mix of both, have numerous benefits:
- Emotional support during times of frustration
- People to celebrate with during times of triumph
- An ability to form bonds with parents who understand your day-to-day
- Parents who will not judge your child
- Advice based on past experiences
- Strategies that have been effective for other children
- Resources, such as clinics, centers, government services, and insurance information, to help you take the steps you need to
Often, these groups hold regular events where you can mingle with fellow parents and begin establishing potentially lifelong relationships.
2. Check for State / Local Resources Available to You
Each state offers their own resources and has their own policies regarding autism spectrum disorder, so it is wise to seek out resources that are linked to your own state. Often, state-based organizations hold annual conferences, offer regular webinars, and share links for pertinent information.
There are opportunities for county Special Olympics teams, music and drama classes designed specifically for students on the autism spectrum, and participation in charity events. Using those resources, you can introduce your child to others with similar interests in a more laid back environment.
3. Connect with Other Parents and Caregivers
Autism spectrum disorder is just that - a spectrum. Every child is different, with varying needs, strengths, and challenges. When choosing parents to connect with, don't feel pressured to force a connection simply because both are caregivers of someone on the spectrum. Focus on developing a relationship the way you normally would and the rest will follow.
One way to meet parents of children with comparable challenges is to reach out to parents of children in your own child’s classroom. You can use the email list to invite the child to a party or playdate, parents included, or attend school events when you can. Be sure to hang around afterwards to take time to build relationships.
Seeking out fellow parents to connect with can feel overwhelming at first. Perhaps you are still adjusting to the diagnosis, and you are not quite ready to delve into these communities. Take the time you need, and when you are ready, they are available.
For any questions or concerns, or further suggestions on becoming a part of the autism community, or to join our built-in Springtide family, reach out on our website, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 888-260-1609.
Reach out today and speak with one of our enrollment specialists to get started with Springtide