How to Find an Autism Support Community

How to Find an Autism Support Community - jenniferajanes.com

How to Find an Autism Support Community by Sandra Peoples

When we got our son’s autism diagnosis two and a half years ago, we were handed a binder and told “good luck” as we headed out the door.

No one in our extended family had autism. None of our friends’ kids had autism. No one in our church had autism. We had questions and didn’t know who to ask. We needed help, and we didn’t know where to turn.

Now we are around kids with autism every week. I communicate with parents of kids with special needs every day. We even have adults in our life who have autism or Asperger’s. We are involved in multiple autism support communities. It’s made a huge difference in our lives and how we’re able to advocate for our son. If you feel like you’re on a little ship in a big ocean, you may also want to connect with an autism support community.

Autism Support Online:

I started finding autism support groups when I started Googling “autism.” Of course, on Google, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to find. I have found sites and groups online that offer real encouragement because they are focused on Christ and the hope He gives to special needs families. A few of my favorites include:

  • Not Alone Parents- Twenty special needs parents (including me!) make up the writing team at Not Alone. We focus on equipping and encouraging parents for the task God has given them. The site also has a place to share prayer requests and often does book giveaways.
  • (in)able and (in)cluded– Built by (in)courage, (in)able and (in)courage are actually private Facebook groups. It’s a safe place to share prayer requests, praises, and even frustrations when we need to.
  • Speechless on Facebook– A year and a half ago I wrote a book about our experiences after James’s autism diagnosis. When I released it, I met readers on Twitter and Facebook who wanted a place to talk about therapy, supplements, and what worked for our kids. So, I created a public Facebook page for the book. I share stories and pictures of James, and we’re able to interact in the comments.

Autism Support In Real Life:

We went to our first autism support group meeting a few months after James’s diagnosis, and we were completely overwhelmed. Since then, we have found a couple of places we’ve been able to connect in real life to other parents.

  • Church– I mentioned we were the only family at our church with a child with autism. That was true when we got James’s diagnosis, but it isn’t true now. Through prayer and patience, our church is building a special needs ministry. Once every other month they offer a respite night for kids with special needs and their siblings. This outreach has attracted families with special needs kids to start coming to our services and activities. Last summer, we even had a vacation Bible school class just for kids like James, who may not like the loud, busy, typical classes.
  • School– If your child(ren) attend school, you can connect with parents of kids in their classes. Our son goes to preschool a few days a week and we’ve gotten to know a few parents through his class. They have been especially helpful as we begin to talk about his transition to kindergarten.
  • Therapy waiting rooms– Earlier this year, James was going to therapy twice a week. Since the therapy place was thirty minutes away from our house, I just sat in the waiting room with the other parents while he was in his sessions. It took a couple of weeks for me be brave and start conversations, but once I did I made some friends. I think we had as much fun in the waiting room as our kids did in the ball pit and climbing wall in the therapy rooms.
  • Local autism support groups– We kept going, even though that first meeting was tough, and I’m so glad we did! Our local group meets in two locations in our county. They do meetings once a month and provide childcare. They also have activities specifically for our families throughout the year, like swim times at the YMCA, reserving the bounce house at the mall, and having movie mornings at one of the local theaters. Our support group is huge and does a walk each year to raise money so families can attend the activities for free. There have been a few families we’ve really connected with and have be able to minister to so many more. If you don’t have a local autism support group, pray about starting your own! Start by having group meetings a few times a year. Advertise through the local schools and churches.

Autism Support Communities Activities - jenniferajanes.com

I am so thankful for friends I’ve made online and in real life who just get it. With all the opportunities available, no parent should feel alone. Get involved today in an autism support community and remember how many of us are steering our ships on that ocean with you.

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Update: Christa is the winner of “Speechless”!

I mentioned my book Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism {affiliate link} and would love to give a copy to one of you today! The winner can choose either the PDF version which can be read on your computer or a Kindle copy. Speechless is the story of our first year after James’s autism diagnosis. He was literally speechless–unable to say even basic words. Lee and I were also speechless–unable to articulate all the emotions we wrestled with. It is the story of God’s grace in our lives during that time.

This giveaway is open to adults ages 18 and older. The giveaway ends Saturday, May 4, 2013, at 9:00 pm CDT. The winner will receive an email within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway and will have 48 hours to respond with the requested information. If I don’t receive a response within 48 hours, I will choose another winner. This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or any other social media site. A comment is all that’s required to enter the giveaway. Please use the Giveaway Tools widget below to enter.

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Sandra PeoplesSandra and her pastor-husband have two boys and are in the process of adopting #3 from Ethiopia. As a follow-up to Speechless, Sandra and her husband Lee are releasing a Bible study for parents of kids with special needs entitled, Held. Their passion is to give the hope of Christ to families who feel hopeless. You can connect with Sandra on her website, sandrapeoples.com.

Disclosure: The Amazon link above is Sandra Peoples’ affiliate link, which means she’ll make a small commission if you purchase the book after clicking that link. Thank you for supporting the Peoples family!

For more information and giveaways for Autism Awareness Month, please visit the landing page by clicking the graphic below:

Autism Awareness Month: April 2013 - jenniferajanes.com

Photo credit: Pictures for this post were provided by Sandra Peoples.

This entry was posted in Autism, Special Needs. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to How to Find an Autism Support Community

  1. Sarah says:

    I can’t wait to see your “Held” Bible study!! When do you anticipate releasing it?

  2. Christa Gardner says:

    I am always looking for additional resources from families just like us! Your book sounds wonderful – and a way that I myself have viewed autism…there is good in this. It is a blessing! So many good things have come from my son’s diagnosis! I would LOVE to read your bible study too! Great stuff! Thanks for the opportunity to win your book.

  3. Seth Smith says:

    I would like to read this

  4. MonicaSmith says:

    This is great! If I don’t win this is a must get! Thanks so much for sharing!!!! :)

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  6. Amanda says:

    I’d love to read your book because reading about other parents’ experiences always makes me feel less alone.

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