How to Support a Friend or Family Member Who Has A Child With ASD
When a friend or family member is dealing with an autism diagnosis, you, as their friend or close family member, can be an integral part of a support system. There are many ways to help.
After the initial diagnosis, the parents will be going through an emotional time. They may go through periods of sadness, anger, hopelessness, and frustration. At the same time, they might be frantically scheduling appointments with doctors or specialists. They are overwhelmed with everything they are learning.
- Continue to be there for your friends or family member. Offer the chance for them to talk, if they wish. Just letting them know that you will be there for them is helpful.
- Take it upon yourself to learn what you can about their child’s diagnosis. There are many resources available on Autism Spectrum Disorders. But realize that there are many, many different forms of treatment and therapies. Each family has to decide what is best, and ultimately, it is the parents’ decision which treatment options they wish to pursue.
- Find an organization such as Milestones that can give you tools to both understand autism and be a strong support for your family.
- Offer to run an errand or bring over a meal. When you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes the day-to-day routine gets put aside. Helping with the friend’s laundry or garden, while seeming like a minor thing to you, can be a big relief.
- Help your friend get organized by offering to make a notebook to hold all of the research and medical information for the child in one place.
- Invite the child over for play dates, if applicable. One of the most important things for children with ASD is to develop social skills. By continuing to include that child in play dates, birthday parties and outings with your child, it helps to work on those skills, and it helps the family not feel so isolated.
- Support, support, support! Even something as simple as bringing over a cup of coffee to your friend can help.