Living with Autism
Seventy years after Leo Kanner first described “infantile autism,” national awareness is still focused mainly on children with autism spectrum disorder. Adolescents and especially adults often have difficulty finding services or even understanding, as many people associate autism only with kids or hold a narrow stereotype of how a person with autism behaves. And even within the autism community, many parents and professionals of people on the spectrum have beliefs and goals that some people with autism might be offended by – and vice versa. In the absence of agreement, what’s needed is greater public understanding, courageous self-advocacy and respectful discussion.
This section offers several resources that can help you if you are looking for information, services or community connections. If you are being discriminated against or need more support, the legal resources page outlines some of the laws and organizations that can help you. If you have been the victim of a crime and don’t know how to interact with the authorities, read our pamphlet from the resource materials page. If you want to advocate for yourself and others on the spectrum, visit the self-advocacy page, which also lists self-advocacy groups such as ASAN, GRASP and SABE. And of course, if you’re looking for advice on parenting a child who has autism, then all the family resources listed below are for you.
Autism Source, the Autism Society’s national contact center, is the best way to connect to services in your area. You can talk to a trained information and referral (I&R) specialist seven days a week from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. or search the online database for any type of support you need.
Resources for Family Members
The demands of living with a person with autism are great, and families frequently experience high levels of stress. Parents have to deal with behaviors and pursue treatments while also planning for the future; siblings might feel embarrassed or overlooked; and it’s important for the whole family to stay involved in the community. Recognizing and preparing for the challenges in store will make a tremendous difference to everyone involved, including parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family and friends.
The Autism Society has developed in-depth information on a variety of topics in our “Living With Autism” series. These free publications are by no means exhaustive, but they should help to equip families with the basic tools they may need to provide the best outcomes for their loved ones on the autism spectrum.
The uniqueness of each person with autism makes the experience of living with autism different for each family. But there are some consistent themes or issues that most families should be aware of to be able to provide the best support to the individual and to family members.