Burnout is the direct result of giving without receiving, which we see in our clients daily. As applied behavioral analysis (ABA) professionals focusing on children with autism, we know how important it is to get the autism support you need. As parents and guardians of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you’ve become expert researchers, learning everything you can about ASD and how it alters the way your child experiences the world.
You’ve figured out how to create the routines required to get through the day while experimenting with the coping strategies to help your little one exercise flexibility muscles. But, most of all, you’ve worked as a tireless advocate for your child in the classroom, playground, and community.
Now, it’s time for you, your family, and your other children to receive the autism support needed to feel heard, understood, and nourished.
While professional training and personalized support are invaluable, we understand that the most nourishing forms of support often come from parents and families walking the same path as you.
Don’t deny yourselves the opportunity to rest and restore in the company of those who “get it.” Remember that the more de-stressed and whole you are, the better able you are to support your kiddo. Each of the resources listed below is one of multiple concentric circles. So, where each may each have a particular focus, they also have resources to support the whole. Ask each one for what you need, and they will be more than happy to connect you to another organization, contact, or group if they can’t directly help you.
Here are some of our recommendations for autism support for parents, families, and siblings.
Celebrating its admirable 25th year in loving service, The Autism Project was created by families of children with autism for families and caregivers of children with autism. Family Support at The Autism Project is a combination of systems navigation, education, coaching, advocacy, and emotional support. It uses a peer model where their Family Support Specialists (FSS) are doubly qualified as Certified Community Health Workers (CCHW) and parents of children on the spectrum.
After contacting their Manager of Family Supports (401-785-2666 x76796) to discuss your concerns or make an appointment, you’ll be put in touch and FSS in your area. They also offer online support groups that cast the net wide and connect parents, caregivers, and families nationwide. In addition, The Autism Project provides Parent to Parent, a five-week training series for parents of children newly diagnosed with ASD, several times per year in both English and Spanish. You can email them to inquire.
The Autism Society of Texas is a home state affiliate of the nationwide Autism Society. Their four main focuses are advocacy, education, recreation, and support. Its mission is to create connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. The vision is to create a world where everyone in the Autism community connects to the support they need when they need it.
In addition to the education and resources this amazing network offers, we recommend looking into the recreational activities offered throughout the year. They host various recreational and fun group activities and events for individuals with ASD and their families. Examples include seasonal holiday parties, AMC Sensory-Friendly Films, and recreation and support groups for autistic adults.
As a parent or caregiver of someone with autism, you’ll appreciate their Friends and Family Happy Hour, which is solely for parents and caregivers! Some of our other special events during the year have included Round Rock Baseball outings, water park outings, hockey games partnered with the Texas Stars Foundation, and summer fun pool parties. Bookmark The Autism Society of Texas’s events calendar page to see what’s coming next.
Being a sibling of a brother/sister with autism is not easy. OAR says it best:
Siblings of children with autism are in a unique position. They face challenges (similar to those that parents encounter), but at a time before they’ve developed appropriate coping strategies. As a result, they need support to ensure that they’re informed, feel respected, and know how to be compassionate advocates for their siblings on the spectrum.
Siblings of children with ASD frequently feel sidelined or ignored as they watch the bulk of the family or household’s time, energy, and patience invested in someone else. Providing a sibling support network for your other child(ren) is one of the best things you can do. Via OAR’s sibling support groups and events, siblings’ feelings are completely validated. In addition, they derive comfort in knowing they are not alone while receiving practical and age-appropriate guidance on addressing some of the difficulties they’re likely to experience.
OAR also offers three free downloads to facilitate their work: A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Siblings, A Guide for Teens, and Autism, My Sibling, and Me (for young children).
Summer camp is a tradition but one that becomes a stressor for parents of children with autism. It’s one thing to scaffold and navigate successful playdates with children you know, but sending them away to camp can seem like an impossibility. Fortunately, our state has several camps dedicated to children with autism and other unique behavioral needs. You can Click Here to review a list.
Another benefit of these camps is that some offer family camps, a place for the whole family to have fun in ways tailored to support one another. One example is Elijah’s Retreat in the beautiful rolling hills and pine forests of Jacksonville, TX. The retreat functions as a sanctuary for families facing autism and runs seven days a week from March through early November. Best of all, family cabins are only $55 per night and come with complete kitchens and wi-fi. That affordable fee includes all of the camp activities (ranch activities, sensory garden, horseback riding, outdoor activities, one-acre play area, and more).
Finally, we’re proud of what we’ve created here at the Autism Response Team (ART), where carefully crafted treatment plans identify your child's individual needs and provide treatment in center-based, home-based, educational settings, and community-based settings. Another benefit of ART is our ability to connect parents, caregivers, and siblings with the autism support they need to thrive.
Please contact us, at (877) 77-ART-TX, to learn more about how you can support every member of your family and household while navigating the autism journey.