It is common to feel overwhelmed in the course of your autism parenting journey. In addition to introducing your child to their diagnosis of autism, we understand that the impact of this discovery is tremendous for parents and caregivers alike. Parents will often worry about their child’s future from a place of love. But sometimes, parents or caregivers will neglect taking care of themselves. In supporting children with autism to live their life to the fullest, we should accept that sometimes, we can’t do it all by ourselves.
Posity is here to help parents of a child with ASD to make sense of it all. We help your little ones fully participate in society as they grow, and we hope the same for you. It’s important to keep doing things that make your life whole. Though the world of autism parenting is stressful at times, we are here with you every step of the way. First and foremost, we will be looking at an overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Then we will cover everything you need to know about Autism Support Groups. Specifically, you will gain insights into how an Autism Support Group or workshop can help empower you and your child with ASD.
An early diagnosis of ASD can help in the autism parenting journey. When an autistic child is diagnosed early on, parents can seek help and access available supports at an earlier stage. Thus, it is more likely to result in better outcomes for the autistic child’s development. Parenting a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is made easier with early access to tailored allied health or therapeutic support immediately after diagnosis.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Put simply, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder. Although people with ASD share a number of similar characteristics, there are also many differences between them. Therefore, every person’s experience with autism is unique from one another.
Autism affects approximately 1 in 70 Australians, and is more common among males than females. ASD can influence the way a person feels, thinks, and processes what surrounds them. As a result, they often find themselves having difficulties in their social lives.
Nevertheless, we can sometimes lose sight of what they are capable of. Surprisingly, they may excel and thrive more in other aspects of life. For instance, a child with autism may discover that arts or music is their strong suit. In view of that, they can cultivate a hobby or even pursue a career around their strengths. So, come what may, as parents of an autistic child, we should celebrate the unique abilities of our little ones and encourage them to reach their full potential.
Common Challenges Faced by An Autistic Child
In supporting our little ones’ growing journey, let us take a closer into some of the everyday struggles shared or faced among children with autism. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may experience challenges in these three main areas:
Children with autism often face difficulties when it comes to both verbal and non-verbal communication. Some children with ASD may be completely non-verbal. Furthermore, they may find it tricky to interpret a speaker’s tone of voice or facial expressions. Children with autism also tend to take things literally, which can cause difficulties when understanding jokes or comprehending idioms. These common struggles can cause challenges when engaging in two-way conversations.
Limited communication skills can have a negative impact on the ability of a child with autism to interact with others. Children with autism may find social interactions somewhat confronting and struggle to “fit in”. In general, they may lack interest in the people around them and tend to avoid eye contact with others. They often face great difficulties in understanding others’ emotions and actions. In addition, children with autism may lack the ability to fully express their feelings and share their thoughts. Hence, children with autism may avoid social interactions and prefer to be alone.
Restrictive and Repetitive Behaviour
Restrictive and repetitive behaviour is common among children with ASD and can often cause challenges. Routine is central to the life of an autistic child. Should there be any changes in routine, children with ASD will tend to get frustrated and upset.
Who Should be Joining an Autism Support Group?
Before we explore the subject of who is encouraged to join an Autism Support Group, let’s start by explaining what is an Autism Support Group is.
In general, Autism Support Groups or workshops serve the needs of parents or caregivers of people with ASD. Some ASD support groups are organised by therapists, educators, or other professionals with expertise in working with children with ASD and their families. It acts as a channel for parents and caregivers to receive much-needed resources, encouragement, and advice in parenting a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Right Autism Parenting Support for Parents or Caregivers
Finding the right support in an Autism Support Group or workshop will help you gain the knowledge and skills to support your child with ASD, and ultimately improve their quality of life overall. Your parenting approach plays a vital role in empowering your child to live independently.
Autism Support Group can greatly benefit children and their families in many ways, such as:
- Provide emotional support to parents or caregivers who may feel overwhelmed, guilty, embarrassed, isolated, etc.
- Provide support that is more affordable for parents or caregivers who are unable to access allied health support or therapeutic services.
- Provide techniques and skills to parents facing challenges as home such as financial stress, illness, and interpersonal conflict.
The Benefits of Joining the Autism Support Group
Apart from merely sharing thoughts with one another, Autism Support Groups led by professionals is a vital source of information, advice, and training for parents and caregivers. This comes in handy, especially among parents who have recently received an autism diagnosis for their little ones. Know that help is always available out there. Here are some of the benefits you may experience if you take part in an Autism Support Group.
A Sense of Belonging
It is common to feel isolated for families with a child with ASD. However, with an upsurge of Autism Support Groups available, parents should not feel alone in their autism parenting journey. The Autism Support Group or workshop allows parents and caregivers to become part of a like-minded community.
Together as a team, parents and caregivers will be given advice on how to support their own wellbeing while also caring for their child with autism. You may relate to other parents experiencing the same or similar challenges. Also, being part of a these groups can expose you to other autism support services or therapy. Although some of the workshops or allied health services take place online, rest assured that you will still feel a sense of belonging as in physical ones.
Professionally-led & Informative
Feel free to ask questions or simply chat with the professionals leading the Autism Support Group. Rest assured that these groups are run by experts who have extensive experience working with families. They can address all your questions and concerns related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Parents and caregivers can have peace of mind when reaching out, knowing that the advice and resources provided are evidence-based.
Learn from experienced professionals about how you can manage challenging behaviours and meltdowns. The qualified professionals in Autism Support Groups can provide a step-by-step guide, strategy, or tool that parents can implement with their children at home. Moreover, you can seek help in navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This scheme provided by the Australian government provides funding for your autistic child to receive allied health services. Allied health or therapeutic care helps in promoting an autistic child’s development and progress.
Supportive & Open
Expect a supportive environment within Autism Support Groups for parents and caregivers to share whilst feeling safe. In an Autism Support Group where people all share similar experiences, you will find yourself leaving each session with more insight and new strategies on parenting. The exchange of information among parents and professionals will lead to better decision making and outcomes for children. Open discussions allows parents to share what might work and what might not when parenting a child with ASD.
Additionally, involving yourself in an Autism Support Group can help reduce stress and tension at home. Parents and caregivers will find themselves navigating challenging situations much easily alongside encouragement from others.
A Single Parent’s Perspective on Autism Parenting
In this section, we are excited to introduce our readers to one of the NDIS participants’ mother, Ms S. She will be sharing about her son’s NDIS journey with Posity.
Ms S is a single mother who resides in Blackburn, VIC, with her little one. We are grateful that she found us on her trying days. She was parenting a young child with ASD whilst also navigating life as a single parent. As a result, the team at Posity suggested We Care Workshops to Ms S to help her achieve a balance between self-care and parenting.
*Remark: We disclose the story with consent and approval from Ms S. The name has been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
A Life-changing Journey with We Care Workshops
Right after my son’s ASD diagnosis, I was told there were many things my child would never be able to do. I stumbled upon Posity when researching for a registered NDIS service provider located in my hometown Blackburn, VIC. My 8-year-old son is now an NDIS participant who receives Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology via Telehealth.
I could not thank Posity enough for matching my autistic child with the right allied health support whilst also taking my mental health into consideration. Their therapists are compassionate when reaching out to me, knowing that I am struggling with my own mental health.
The Support I Yearned for Since Diagnosis
To be honest, I myself faced a number of personal issues such as guilt and loneliness in parenting a child with ASD. I am lucky to have Posity, and appreciate their recommendation on an Autism Support Group, such as We Care Workshops which are made for parents like me. One of the paediatric occupational therapists – Dr Anoo Bhopti, PhD, is the Program Lead and Developer of We Care Workshops. I am more than happy to seek help from her in group learning and sharing sessions, as she is one of the allied health professionals who helps my son in Occupational Therapy.
To this day, my son and I receive the autism-specific support we need via Telehealth appointments. We could not be more grateful, especially due to the busy schedule that restricts me from attending sessions face-to-face all the time.
Becoming A Better Care Giver
My participation in We Care Workshops has helped me tremendously. I could not imagine my life as a single parent without this support. Not going lie, I was completely exhausted everyday me this. I am thankful to have a group of compassionate parents who share the same feelings as me. This Autism Support Group for parents gives me a platform to vent my frustrations whilst sharing the burden with other parents. I felt understood by the group, and with their support, my guilt in failing to become a good parent for my child with ASD goes away little by little, day by day.
I would like to thank the experts in the professionally-led We Care Workshops. They listen, support, and prepare me for what comes ahead in my parenting journey.
Accept Your Autistic Child for Who They Are
Acceptance and acknowledgement apply to both the parents and children in a household with children with ASD. Apart from accepting your little ones from a place of love, you should also acknowledge the challenges in parenting, particularly during the early years. We encourage you to take the first step for your family and seek support from every source possible.
Posity celebrates you and your parenting journey. Together with We Care Workshops, we provide parents of children with ASD with a platform to connect with like-minded parents. We hope to create a safe space for parents with questions and concerns to reach out.
Our team here at Posity can help enhance your family’s quality of life not only through our Allied Health services, but also through our online parenting workshops. Bear in mind that – by taking care of yourself, you will also become a better parent or caregiver for your child with ASD.