For the first time in the 5 or so years I’ve been attending Autism-specific Support Groups, I attended one recently where I actually felt supported and understood when I left…and what’s even more amazing is that both my man AND my ex-hubby were there (awkward, and completely unplanned). I used to attend a Support Group that was for all special needs that was supportive and, ironically, the only families who attended all ended up having at least a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum.
My experience with Support Groups for the Autism community prior to this meeting is that primarily parents of teenagers/adults with diagnosis are able to attend. I found myself sitting in a room filled with parents complaining about how little support they received 15/20/25+ years ago. Needless to say, as a parent of newly diagnosed child with Autism, this wasn’t very supportive, and hadn’t been my experience thus far.
I grew up in a home where my parents worked VERY hard, and searched out all the newest (and therefore expensive) therapies for the higher needs my brother had and continues to battle to this day. Although I’m sure she did, I never saw my mom crack under the pressure. She seemed to go about the “business” of finding as much support as possible for my brother, trying to get diagnosis (which finally unofficially occurred when she was reading a Reader’s Digest article of all things…when my brother was 18!) while still running the family business and home.
Three families were in attendance at this Support Group. All our kids were within the same age range, and we were all nodding at the same time during discussions, or having the same concerns about schooling, cutting our kids’ hair, etc. Someone observing the room may think it wasn’t helpful as there were no “actionable outcomes” but it was so nice to be in a room with others who understood…finally!