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Autism and Families

Oftentimes, parents/caregivers of individuals with ASD keep focusing on the individual him/herself, and forget to evaluate their own level of stress and health. Without a chance to let out their emotions or finding a chance to relax and accept the diagnosis, family members may neglect their own needs.

There are several things that parents/caregivers need to consider:

Ask for help: Do not hesitate to look for any support available – from family members to support groups.

Find a person to talk to: Find a person who can listen to how you feel. Letting your feelings out can be a great source of strength.

Join a support group: Knowing that what you and your family and child go through can help better relate to your own experiences. Additionally, support groups can be a great source of information and resources at each stage of your child’s growth.

Spend time with other children individually: All children need to feel loved, therefore it is important to find time to spend time with other children as well.

Learn about ASD: The more comfortable you are about the disorder, the easier it is for you to share your knowledge and experience with others. Leanr how to talk about ASD to educate your families and community. This will ultimately make you and your family more at ease to engage in community events.

Learn more about experiences of families of individuals with ASD and what they have found helpful.

Also, check out:

The Father’s Perspective: A Panel Discussion

From CDC’s 2016 Autism Awareness Month Event

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Sibling Support

As a sibling of an individual with ASD, remember:

You are not alone! All siblings of individuals with ASD experience challenges. Join a support group for siblings to be able to share how you feel with those who are like you.

Be a proud brother or sister! Learn how to talk comfortably and openly about autism. If you are comfortable talking about it, your friends will be too. It is also normal to be occasionally upset about your brother or sister, so do not be afraid to have such feelings. However, if you feel that you are upset or angry for too long, talk to your parents and/or seek a professional with whom you would be comfortable sharing your feelings.

Find activities that you can do with your sibling: Try to find a game or other activity that both you and your sibling can enjoy. This will give you a chance to get to know each other better.

Spend time with your parents: You are a family, so it is OK to occasionally spend time alone with your parents to have time to share what you feel and how you feel.

Organization for Autism Research: Sibling Support

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Coping Strategies and Dealing with Stress

Research shows that parents of individuals with ASD often experience higher stress levels than parents of children with other developmental disabilities or neurotypical children. Increased stress around the time of diagnosis is often connected to accepting the diagnosis and determining how to support their child. However, with age, parents/caregivers are often worried how they are going to take care of their child later at life or what happens to the child if they pass away.

Additionally, parents/caregivers of individuals with ASD are often less involved in recreational and sporting activities that contributes to their social isolation.

Also, check out:

Interactive Autism Network: Stress and the Autism Parent

Mancil, C., & Boyd, B. (2009). Parental stress and autism: Are there useful coping strategies? Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44(4), 523-537

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