Support for families with autism

When Gus was little, and every minute of every day was spent dealing with his disability, a social worker suggested Mike and I go to a parent support group.

I told the social worker this idea was absurd.  

Why on earth would Mike and I spend a treasured evening out talking with other parents about the very thing consuming us all day long? She pestered… and pestered.

Finally we gave in, just to get her off our backs.

Our babysitter was late that night. We apologized to the support group. “Babysitter?” one parent asked. “Don’t you know about respite?” Turns out a social service agency in our area provided free respite care for children with disabilities. Who knew?

Other parents at the support group, that’s who.

They explained what we’d have to do to qualify. We filled out the paperwork, and Gus received respite care for years afterwards.

What’s the only bad thing about all this? I had to admit to the social worker that she was right!

In case you missed it, Patricia Wright, National Director of Autism Service at Easter Seals, left a comment to our blog post about autism being a hot topic in the presidential campaign that includes a great resource for finding an autism support group near you:

The Autism Society of America has a portion of their website that is dedicated to assisting people to locate their local support group. You may be able to gather information from families who have had success in finding the supports that they need for their children in your local area.

Still not convinced you should give support groups a try? Then visit our Stories of Hope page to read how an autism support group helped Jayne, the mother of a 10-year-old with autism.

… Jayne admits that after his diagnosis she was so busy ensuring he had the early intervention therapy he needed, she did not always recognize her own need for support and understanding.

That was until she found a support group provided by the Easter Seals New Hampshire Autism Network’s Family Support Program.

“Early on I would have said I didn’t need to talk about it,” she says. “I was just plugging away at getting him services. Now I know how nice it is to have a network of people who get it.”

I don’t mean to pester here, but heck, at least give a support group a try. You never know what you might learn. And as painful as it was telling that social worker she was right, the years of respite care were well worth it!


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  1. Sara VanZee Says:

    I am a teacher and mother to 2 children, 1 of which has Autism. I was fed up with how limited my choices were when it came to providing all of the things for education and therapy for my son. Not to mention parental support.

    I, along with Donna Bloom, a registered Nurse, co-founded and now are co-directing, School of Autism. We are a sensory immersion school for children with autism ages 2-6. We are expanding this year to include ages 7-8.

    All of our children have met every single one of their goals for each quarter in the last 2 years. I use state standards and benchmarks to document the students’ progress, but we have a different environment…a safe, secure place, where the children can participate in sensory activities. We have a project-based curriculum that includes cooking, construction, science, math, reading and computer technology.

    Check us out at

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