Mindful communities and support groups provide participants with the tools they need to live full and rich lives despite the challenges. And, most importantly, support groups remind us that we’re not alone. April is National Autism Awareness Month and support groups across the country are dedicated to reaching out and helping families with autistic kids.
Expand Your Knowledge for Autism Awareness Month
There are three common types of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs): Asperger’s syndrome, autistic disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Asperger’s syndrome is said to be the mildest forms of autism. The autistic disorder has more severe symptoms like social and language impairments and seizures. And then there is PDD-NOS or atypical autism. It applies to most “children whose autism is more severe than Asperger’s syndrome, but not as severe as autistic disorder.”
Children can be diagnosed with an ASD as early as two years old, but parents may notice signs (like lack of social interaction, difficulty with verbal/nonverbal communication, and obsessive behavior) as early as their first birthday. One in 88 children has an ASD. And it’s five times more common among boys (one in 54) than girls (one in 252). While there’s no cure for autism there are several treatment options like medication and alternative therapy. There are support groups as well, which provide help for the whole family.
Supporting Autistic Kids and Their Families
Autism support groups make a world of difference for the kids. Some support groups host social events, a great opportunity for the kids to improve their social skills and interact with other kids suffering from autism. For instance, some organizations offer workshops like “How to Handle Bullies” for the kids to “Changing Bodies” for older children/teens. These groups and organizations also help with issues like anxiety or depression.
With stress and financial challenges (like medical bills), parents of an autistic child also benefit from extra support. Autism advocacy groups provide just that. These groups can help educate family members and train them on the best techniques for managing the symptoms. Parents can exchange information on treatments and strategies with other families. And they can also share their stories and gain insight from others’ experiences too.
Nowadays these support groups meet at local schools, community centers, hospitals, or clinics. There are even Internet groups and online chat rooms that allow parents to connect with other families while in the comfort of their own homes. If you’re looking to learn more about ASDs or local support groups consider this list.