So many people misunderstand or don't believe autism even exists. They say that the behaviors are because of bad parenting, etc. Whether it's friends, neighbors, co-workers, or relatives, they just don't know what goes into parenting our kiddos on the Autism Spectrum. Some try to understand,(or think they understand because their cousins best friends neighbors nephew has autism) but unless you've been there, there is just no "getting it". And all to often, parents feel isolated and alone because going out into public is very difficult with the transitions and sensory issues of their child. This is why finding a good support group is so important. You soon discover what an invaluable part of your support team they really can be.
Last night, Blair and I went to the East Valley Autism Network (EVAN) support group in Phoenix. We found great support people there. You know you have support when you leave feeling stronger than you did when you arrived. These are people who truly understand the plight of the Autism parent because they have been/are there...done/doing that! And with the divorce rate and depression so high for parents within the special needs community, the need for support is very important.
According to the 2000 US Census, families with a female householder with no husband present were more likely than other family types to report having members with a disability. Among the 12.5 million such families, 34.8 percent reported one or more members with a disability, compared with 27.3 percent among the 55.5 million married-couple families and 31.6 percent among the 4.3 million families with a male householder with no wife present. Divorce following the birth of a child with special needs has been cited as the primary factor leading to a single-mother headed households for families with a child with special needs (Sloan Work and Family Research Network, 2008).
According to Caring Today magazine (2010), four in 10 caregivers report increased feelings of depression and three in 10 believe that their health has deteriorated since they've become a caregiver. Family caregivers who provide more than 36 hours of care weekly are more likely than non-caregivers to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety.
This shows me that developing a strong support system is worth more than you could ever calculate. With the support and education that is available at these parent groups, you begin to feel a sense of community and belonging, as does your child who oftentimes finds friendship with others who are also on the spectrum and understand them. These friendships can last a lifetime. This provides social interaction with peers and adults with whom they can feel comfortable and don't have to fear rejection or bullying.
Other very important members of your support team would be your Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, teachers, any family members who are willing to learn more about autism and your Hab and respite provider. The pressures of raising kiddos on the Autism Spectrum can be excruciating at times. The levels of frustration and discouragement can be overwhelming. But with your support team, you can get through those times and move forward, working together to meet the goals you've set for your child's success. So...is support important? ABSOLUTELY!!!! WITHOUT A DOUBT!!! You more than likely won't survive without it.