Having a family member with
autism presents many challenges. Support and training
for parents and siblings are important components of treatment. Training family
members about autism and how to effectively manage the symptoms can reduce family stress and improve the functioning of the child with
autism.1 Some families will need more outside
assistance than others, depending on their internal functioning, established
support systems, and financial situation.
It is important for parents to actively seek assistance from whatever
sources are available. Talk to your health professional and investigate what
help is available locally. Family, friends, public agencies, and national or
community organizations are all potential resources.
Whatever the source of support, the following measures are helpful
for all families who have a member with autism.
Schedule breaks. Daily
demands of caring for a child with autism can be overwhelming. Trained
personnel can relieve family members from these duties as needed. These breaks
can help families communicate in a less stressful context and allow parents to
focus on their relationships with their other children. Having regular breaks
may also help a family continue to care for a child at home, rather than
becoming so exhausted that they resort to institutional care. Government
programs exist to help families who cannot afford this occasional
Seek assistance for a child with autism who is entering adolescence. Community services and public programs can help
families during what can be an especially difficult time for their child. An
adolescent child may benefit from group home situations, special employment,
and other programs designed to help the transition into
Make contact with other families who have a child with autism. There are many families who share your
concerns and daily challenges. Local and national groups can help connect
families and provide much-needed sources of information. Most health
professionals can recommend some of these organizations.
Myers SM, et al. (2007, reaffirmed 2010). American Academy of
Pediatrics clinical report: Management of children with autism spectrum
disorders. Pediatrics, 120(5): 1162–1182.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.