April 19, 2017

Living with Autism – Raising a Child on the Spectrum Affects Everyone in the Family

A child with autism develops differently compared to his or her peers. The differences can be subtle, or they may be severe. Signs of autism in children are problems in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Raising a child diagnosed with autism can be challenging — not just for parents, but everyone in the family.

Dealing with the Diagnosis

  • Get your child started in treatment. If you know your child is engaged in meaningful activities, you can focus on moving forward. It can also free up time so you can educate yourself, advocate for your child and take care of yourself.
  • Ask for help. People around you may want to help but don’t know how. Is there someone who can cook dinner for your family one night so you can spend time learning or pick up a few things for you at the store or do a load of laundry?
  • Talk to someone. Let someone know what you’re going through. Someone who just listens can be a great source of strength.
  • Try to take a break. Allow yourself some time away, even if it’s just a few minutes to take a walk. Try to get regular sleep. You will be better prepared to make good decisions, be more patient with your child and more able to deal with stress.
  • Consider joining a support group. It can be helpful to listen to or talk to others who are going through a similar experience. Support groups can be great sources of information on what services are available in your area and who provides them.

Family Support Network of Western North Carolina

At Mission Children’s Hospital, the Family Support Network of Western North Carolina is a parent-to-parent program that offers emotional support, education and resources for parents and others serving children with special healthcare and developmental needs.

The program provides a variety of activities to support anyone adjusting to a family member receiving a difficult developmental diagnosis like autism.

At Family Group Night, children with special needs and their siblings connect with others in their community going through the same challenges. The program also offers resources and educational support for parents and caregivers raising a child with autism or another special need.

FSN provides an extensive lending library, workshops, resource packets and more. When raising a child with autism, parents who participate in this program can start navigating the diagnosis and understand what interventions and services can help.


Family Group Night meets the 1st Tuesday of the month for families raising a child with special needs from 0-10 years of age, and the 2nd Thursday of the month for families raising a child with special needs from 11-21 years of age. For more information, email kerri.eaker@msj.org or call (828) 213-0047.
If you have a child with special needs, visit missionchildrens.org for more information on our support services.

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