Support Groups for Autism Spectrum Families

Parent Q&A

  • Support group for mom with two autistic children

    (2 replies)

    Hello,

    I am a mom of two young boys with Autism.  I am looking for a parent support group in the east bay.  

    I appreciate any recommendations!

     Hi there! I am a mom  with one son who is also autistic. I attend a monthly support group meeting in San Ramon hosted by the Care Parent Network. If you're in Contra Costa County, they have other support group meetings throughout the county. Another great resource for information is on Facebook. There is a page called East Bay Autism Parents. It is a private group but you can asked to join. The members share lots of resources and information. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

    I wish I knew of one, because I'd like to join one, too!

    Our son is 4.5 years old and has the Asperger's type of autism and we live in Berkeley.

    I'll be waiting to see if anyone has any recommendations, but in the meantime, feel free to contact me if you'd like to get together!

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  • Painting group for adult autistic son

    (1 reply)

    My son is 29 and a very talented artist. He works at Creative Growth Art Center, a wonderful organization for adult disabled artists; he exhibits and sells his quirky artwork at their gallery openings.  He is autistic, very high functioning, intellectual and of course socially awkward (I guess that's the right word).  He has a lot to offer, sort of a cross between an art nerd and a Buddha, but has no outlets outside of CGAC to meet like minded/hearted people.  He's lonely and would be ecstatic finding a group of painting enthusiasts to paint with, in or outside.   Does anyone know of a casual painting group that would accept him into their fold?  Or does anyone have any ideas about forming such a group?  Please post or write to me.   

    The art studio program at the Ed Roberts Campus. Not a painting group, but some are painters. Contact the director Nick Nold at nicknold [at] gmail.com 

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  • Trying to find an Autism community and general advice

    (3 replies)

    Hi,

    My 3 year old son was diagnosed by OUSD with Autism.  He is on the more typical side of the spectrum and although the diagnosis is not a huge shock, we are trying to figure out what this will mean for him in school and beyond.  The school district offers us preschool at Emerson CDC in Oakland with six special needs kids and 15 typical kids with the goal to mainstream by the end of the year.  We are not thrilled with it and would like to know what our other options are.  We have not had a medical diagnosis yet.  He is the kind of kid where it is not immediately obvious that he is different and he is very social.   I have some questions and am hoping that someone who has gone through this can help navigate this a little. 

    1. I would love to find a GREAT pediatrician that can really take the time to help us get a medical diagnosis and help us with the ABA options.  Does anyone think this is even worth doing at age three? Our current pediatric group has been extremely unhelpful and we really have been on our own since we started all this at age 2.  

    2. Has anyone been through the Oakland or Berkeley special ed with a very high functioning autistic kid?  Has anyone done the public school preschool option?  We are actually thinking of moving to Berkeley anyway for our older typical kid and would love to know if it would be better.  We are also willing to move to Orinda or Lafayette.  

    3. We would LOVE to find other parents with high functioning Autistic kids or some sort of support.  I dont know anyone with atypical children, and it is feeling pretty lonely.  I also worry about him having friends, he really enjoys playing and interacting with other kids his age. My biggest worry is that his differences will affect his ability to have close friends.  

    4. Are there any private preschools or elementary schools that would be an excellent place for a highly functioning, very intelligent autistic kid?  

    Thanks! 

    sklevine123 [at] gmail.com

    I am not a parent with a child with autism although I am a child development specialist and work with parents of kids with special needs. You should check out Burbank school in Oakland which has a few classes for kids with autism--mostly self-contained. There are options other than Emerson. If it doesn't feel like a good fit, listen to yourself....Please contact the family resource network housed with Bananas. It is staffed by parents of children with special needs and they know a lot about what's available-particularly the director, whose name escapes me for the moment. Also alameda county first five may have some resources but FRN is a good first step for you.

    Stanford has Behavioral and Developmental Pediatricians who see A LOT of young kids with autism. Heidi Feldman, MD is the director there. Absolutely, age three is NOT too early!!! There are lots of opinions about ABA. There are also other techniques which people find helpful if that technique is not to your liking. ABA is mostly what people think about (and about all that insurance will cover)but there are other ways....floor time (Stanley Greenspan) has shown great results with a different stance on what is helpful and normalizing. More family friendly....(in my opinion)

    There are all sorts of support groups out there for parents of kids with special needs. FRN probably knows of these also.

    Good luck....

    I am a parent of two kids with very high-functioning autism, one in private preschool and one in public elementary school. So I feel pretty well-qualified to answer your questions. First off, the diagnosis is a tough time. It's overwhelming emotionally, and then a logistical challenge to try to figure out services and what to do next. It does get easier as you settle into a new reality and a new routine. Now, to answer your questions:

    1. In my opinion, any supportive pediatrician will do fine. Most developmental pediatricians usually only see patients for diagnosis and follow-up related to the ASD. As long as you have a provider who is supportive and good at providing referrals will work well. Unfortunately, much like when you get sick as an adult, you are responsible for getting a diagnosis and getting additional services needed. This is unfortunately a huge pain and takes much time, especially initially when you're setting up services.

    2. You can typically get the medical diagnosis from a psychologist or a developmental pediatrician. I found most Bay Area developmental pediatricians had extremely long waiting lists. You don't mention cost being a factor, so all the advice I recommend in this message is what I think is best, regardless of cost. I recommend getting your diagnosis from Dr. Brynna Siegel at the Autism Center of Northern California (ACNC) in SF. Not cheap, but in my opinion worth the drive and money. And usually not too long a wait. Once you get the medical diagnosis, you can submit it to your insurance company to request ABA services. If they're covered by your insurance, I recommend BIA. In my opinion, they're the best ABA provider, hands-down.

    3. Regarding switching school districts now--it's hard to predict the future and know what your 3-year-old's needs will be by the time they get to elementary school. Especially after a few years of ABA, you will hopefully be amazed by their progress. My general advice is to do what's best for you and your older child and not make any decisions based on the younger child now. The quality of services is often extremely variable in a district, and you often don't know what a program is like until you start at a specific school. A district can have a great reputation, but the quality of services at the school is really what counts.

    4. Regarding preschool, we also didn't like the choice offered by the district. Another factor in the decision is that an ABA aide can typically accompany your child to a private preschool, but this is not usually allowed at preschools offered by the district. It has been ideal to have my son, who is very high-functioning, surrounded by typically-developing peers and learning from them. And having the ABA provider at school helps him immeasurably. Some schools I know of that have allowed aides to accompany very high-functioning kids in the past are Mustard Seed, Chatham School, Growing Light Montessori and Duck's Nest, but I'm sure there are many more. Your ABA provider may also be able to recommend preschools they think would be a good fit for your son.

    I believe there is a meetup group of high-functioning/asperger's families, but I have no specific recommendations regarding support. ACNC has some great, albeit expensive, programs that may be extremely helpful. Best of luck to your family.

    Hi there,

    I have a 5 year old with autism who was diagnosed at the age of 3. We live in the Dublin- Pleasanton area and he has benefited from going to the DUSD public school preschool a lot, alongwith ABA at his afterschool program (with neurotypical kids involved as well). While I can't comment on the OUSD preschool, we have a had a good experience in the DUSD preschool so I can say that if the preschool is good it can be very helpful for the child.

    As for a parent community- I have found the Peninsula Parents of Special Needs Kids (PPSNK) to be an invaluable online community with tons of practical advice on the entire range of issues from medical to navigating school systems (private and public both) and lots of empathetic discussions. You can check out their website and sign up for their listserv: http://www.ppsnk.org/

    Another good resource is the Family Resources Navigators- and they specifically work in the Oakland area as well. http://familyresourcenavigators.org/

    Finally I found invaluable advice from the Early Support Program for Autism in Stanford University which runs special (mostly free) programs for parents of children on the spectrum. They help you navigate the whole search for an ABA provider, practical advice to help your child, among many other things. http://med.stanford.edu/espa.html

    Good luck!

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions


Groups for adult with probable Asperger's

June 2009

I'm a parent in my fifties who has just come to the realization that I have Asperger's. Its a self-diagnosis based on a lot of on-line tests and the research I have done re: my son, who has Asperger's too. I have no friends in the Bay Area, and have a lot of trouble making/keeping friends. Does anyonehave any advice for me? Or know of support groups for adults in the East Bay? Aspie mom


I have a friend who is also an adult with Asperger's, and she has a great web site that includes resources and local group ideas: http://lbnuke.com/resources/ She thinks all the groups in the Bay Area are in SF, but she is also in the East Bay so if you find anything else she'd love to hear about it! I'm glad that you are reaching out and hope you find some good connections. Aspie Ally


There IS an adult support group in the east bay which specializes in socialization skills for Asperger's and related diagnoses. Communication Works in Oakland 510-639-2929, www.cwtherapy.com - is a reputable resource I highly recommend you connect with! Their helpful staff offer services designed to assist your son also. My family is benefitting greatly with the help of CW. I encourage you to contact them asap. Feel free to email me also, if you'd like. I welcome it. Liz


I am forgetting whether the person with Asperger's seeking friends mentioned whether they were male or female, but Helmut Relinger, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Berkeley who provides cognitive behavioral therapy for teenagers and young men, and his offerings include social skill groups for individuals with Asperger's. I have heard him talk about his groups, and I believe he emphasizes having clients organize and meet up for casual activities in the community together. Good luck! Anonymous


I've been hesitant to reply to this, but here goes...

I'm a 43 year old professionally diagnosed male Aspie. The ''professionally diagnosed'' part is important because self diagnosis is very fashionable these days (''Sometimes uncomfortable at parties? That's totally me.'') Professionally guided classes and groups that help you to function with NTs (NT = Neurotypical = not Aspergers) that are not willing or able to meet you and your Aspergers halfway are important and useful, but if you are looking to expand your social network, they may even be a bad thing.

Deeper friendships with NTs are perfectly possible. I'm married to an NT and we have an excellent relationship and a lovely 12 month old daughter. It is, however, very important that you be able to be yourself around them and make sure that they understand you sooner rather than later. No matter how much cognitive training you take, it will always be a layer on top. Give NTs some credit for ability to ''get'' Aspies if you are up front about it. They're better at it than you think.

There are Adult Asperger groups run by Aspies here and there (one meets in the SF main library). Rich


Lookng for support grp for parents of aspergers youth

June 2009

I am looking for other parents with children or adolescents with Aspergers ( or other nuerological challenges). I am interested both in something on line as well as meeting other parents. I am interested in developing some support and community. mom of nuero diverse youth


Hi, What a great idea. I live in Berkeley and have a 9 yr old son with Aspergers. It is very mild and almost imperceptible. The Doctor who diagnosed warned that that had its own problem because kids don't see it at first and then his love of facts and sometimes mildly ''off'' comments and answers to questions make him easy to tease. He is very bright and a sponge for knowledge and reading and facts. Also athletic and musical. But few friends his own age. I would be interested in finding other similar children and their families. Anyone else out there with a similar child? amydc


There is a parent support group for parents of kids with Aspergers and related disorders that meets monthly in Walnut Creek at the Barnes & Noble. http://www.aspergersresource.org/support_group_dates.html There are many, many other support groups and agencies, and you will find references to them on that site too. That site has MANY resources assembled by local mom Karra Barber, who is a force of nature and wonderful resource for us all. good luck and good for you for reaching out for more support. - Nancy


My cousin has a support group in Oakland that sounds like something you might want to try. Her contact information is: Oakland Hills Parent Support Group: Laura Stritzel: Laura2562 [at] sbcglobal.net. There is also a list of other support groups on our website at http://www.cwtherapy.com/supportorg.html. Hope this helps! Warm Regards, Elizabeth


Support for parents of Asperger teens & young adults?

Feb 2008

Does anyone know of a support group for parents of Asperger's teens and young adults? Thanks. Parent of newly diagnosed young adult


There's a public support group at the Barnes & Noble in Walnut Creek for parents of autism spectrum children every month, usually with very good speakers. It's a great place to connect with other parents who are without a doubt your best resource for learning more about how to help your child. Here's the url for their website: http://www.aspergersresource.org/support_group_dates.html. Although this group mostly draws families of younger children, often with more severe symptoms, it's nonetheless a great place to pick up leads. Hope that helps. Aspie mom


There is a fantastic support group for parents of Aspergers young adults and teens after high school that meets about once a month at The Springstone School in Lafayette, 1035 Carol Lane (on the site of Our Savior's Lutheran Church). The next meeting is Monday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. The group is free and includes a core of compassionate, intelligent and savvy parents who have helped me more, as the parent of an Aspergers son, than any physician, speech therapist or neuropsychologist around. I always make the trip through the tunnel from my home in Oakland for these meetings. You might also be interested in an upcoming all day workshop on ''Post-High School Transition Planning for Young Adults with Aspergers, NLD and other Neurocognitive Deficits,'' to be held at Orion Academy in Moraga on April 12. See the flyer at: http://orionacademy.org/documents/2008_Transition_Seminar.pdf.
My heart goes out to you. Aspie Mom


Asperger's support group?

July 2003

Looking for Asperger's support group in local East Bay. Any leads? thanks much


Try contacting the Learning Disabilities Association, East Bay Branch. You can reach them on the web. Good luck. Linda