Having an autistic child or dependent adult is very draining on both caregivers and relatives. Knowing how to advocate and care for you your loved ones, while increasing general awareness, and caring for yourself are essential day to day necessities that require your immediate attention. The best resource to help you cope with an autistic child or dependent adult is an autism support group. These groups bring together professionals that are experts in the field of autism and those who interact with autism on a day-to-day basis. Together they use this forum to swap ideas, encourage, and educate each other. An autism support group to be effective must play five critical roles on a day-to-day basis.
Partnership and Comprehensive Support
An autism support group must help bring people together and aid in the formation of partnerships to encourage interaction and growth between all involved. This support will provide a foundation upon which the group’s members will grow and participate in the educational opportunities that are available and help match the needs of the autistic dependents with the needs of their families and caregivers. The support group should also provide Comprehensive support that is directed towards the objective that all autistic dependents receive a complete or traditional education designed specifically to the needs of the autistic individual.
Positive and Educational Support
Another major function of an autism support group is to offer positive support to the autistic child and their caregivers by providing an atmosphere of encouragement and a safe environment to vent and express one’s emotions without fear of reprisal or judgment. This positive support will help break down barriers and allow positive accomplishments to flourish and be recognized.
All the positive support in the world will accomplish nothing without building a solid foundation for education and the support group must promote educational programs to increase the knowledge of its members and prepare them with the information needed to be able to care for and support their loved ones. As an educational resource the support group becomes tasked with the responsibility for disseminating information about the disability, its symptoms, and treatments, and to provide support for the families with autistic dependents.
The final and most critical function of an autism support group is their role as an advocate to protect and educate those that do not understand autism and often neglect the needs of the autistic patients as a result. An autism support group must represent the autistic community and push for the needs of the autistic community at large.