livingwithautism

Finding Community

Support groups can be helpful for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Support groups can be helpful for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Many families find these groups most helpful in the first years after diagnosis, when early intervention for the child is essential, and disruption to normal family life is highest. Some greatly benefit from mentoring by a parent of an older child who has already gained some experience. Some parents prefer the relative anonymity of attending large groups and lectures.

Treatment

The best treatment for autism is early, intense, structured and interactive instruction provided by well-trained teachers. But children spend most of their waking hours at home. In order to be effective, any treatment regimen must rely on “special parenting” by informed parents.

The best treatment for autism is early, intense, structured and interactive instruction provided by well-trained teachers. But children spend most of their waking hours at home. In order to be effective, any treatment regimen must rely on “special parenting” by informed parents.

Navigating School Services

When a child with autism goes to school, there are essentially two options: He may be placed in special education classes, or he may be “mainstreamed” with the rest of the children.

When a child with autism goes to school, there are essentially two options: He may be placed in special education classes, or he may be “mainstreamed” with the rest of the children.

Mainstreaming is best understood not as an end in itself but as a means to better learning. It works most effectively when the pupil can be expected to make meaningful educational gains when exposed to a curriculum that is developmentally within his grasp. When this is not done, school aides are often left to run a separate day-to-day program to help the child accommodate to the curriculum.

Tips for Parents

Receiving a diagnosis of autism is a major life event. Coping with the diagnosis and learning to manage the child’s treatment become lifelong tasks.

Receiving a diagnosis of autism is a major life event. Coping with the diagnosis and learning to manage the child’s treatment become lifelong tasks.

Parents need help becoming effective consumers of autism services. They should keep realistic expectations for their child’s behavioral and cognitive growth, as well as outcomes at school and beyond. They must understand enough about how their child learns to provide “special parenting” when the child is not in organized treatment.

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