Piecing Autism Together: Families and Support Groups

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Ladig, Daniel A.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability. Autism is defined as, a bio-neurological developmental disability typically appearing before age three. Characteristics of ASD may include repetitive behavior, withdrawal behavior, and/or misbehavior that make social outings for families difficult. Previous research has indicated the day-to-day level of stress arising from parenting, the parents' lack of confidence in handling the child's behavior, the lack of supportive services to meet the needs of the affected child, and the realization that there is no cure for ASD are a few stressors experienced by parents. The goal of this study is to identify specific resources and other benefits of participating in a support group for parents of children with ASD. The findings of the study emphasize the feeling of community within an autism support group, the use of respite care (temporary or short-term home care of a child that is provided, either for pay or on a voluntary basis) since joining the support group, the type of information shared between members, and the benefits gained from being in an autism support group. The social well-being of individuals caring for a child with ASD has a greater potential to increase when parents involve themselves in external supports. In addition, the overall functioning of a family may be enhanced by support groups as social activity increases through interactions with other group members.