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Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses

Support Groups

Tammi Reynolds, BA & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA

Support groups are mutual self-help groups, run either by peers (other parents of children with autism spectrum disorder), or by professionals working in the field. Families can find support groups in several ways: through autism spectrum disorder education and support organizations, through schools, agencies or doctors, and on the Internet. Groups are usually offered 'face-to-face', but more and more, they are organized and delivered through Internet based communities.

Support groups are often designed to offer focused support for specific problems or demographics. For example, support groups for the siblings of people with autism spectrum disorder are common. Such groups work to help siblings understand the disorder and to relate to their brothers or sisters. They teach techniques for interacting with siblings with ASD, and they provide emotional support as well. There are also support groups for parents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Many of these support groups can be found on the Internet. Families may choose to visit Internet support groups, or they may choose to research local 'face-to-face' support groups over the Internet.