A Little Hope

Yesterday I attended the first family-centered support group meeting for ASD families in southern Oregon. I’ve previously attended other support groups for parents, and they were always welcoming, but I felt like something was missing. I would leave without feeling better than when I had arrived. It wasn’t the type of support group I was looking for.

This one yesterday was different. It was so affirming to have the kids there. The parents, the ASD kids, and the siblings all there, all interacting – it just felt right. I met other parents also at the teen stage as well as others just starting out. The level of understanding was inherent, as was the bond. I saw tiredness on some of their faces, and stress. But I also saw hope.

And the hope was there because the older kids were there. I saw some young parents watching Nigel, and that gave me a sense of pride. Because I know how far he’s come. I still have many concerns about the future, of course. But if Nigel, just as he is, can give some young parents hope for their child’s development, that’s something. That’s really something.

I did the same thing when I went to the autism and puberty seminar that I attended in October. One of the presenters at the seminar was a higher-functioning autistic adult. All the parents were rapt as we listened to her, watched her, absorbed her. She was hope to us, those of us with teens. She patiently answered questions, related stories of her childhood and teenage years, what she had been like. We all wanted to know when she had started talking so that we could compare that to our own children’s past development, and look ahead to how far she progressed, thinking that the potential was there for our kids. Of course, there are no guarantees, and we know that. But still. We hope.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a seminar where an autistic adult will be presenting, I encourage you to do so. You will come away with a sense of understanding that you couldn’t possibly get from reading a book. You can’t look at that person and think, That’s what my kid could be like. But looking at them and just experiencing their presence will give you hope. And we could all use a little more of that.

10 thoughts on “A Little Hope

  1. Goldie

    Hmmm… I facilitate a support group at our church once a month. This past week was the first time I did NOT leave feeling BETTER. I couldn’t put my finger on WHY. Maybe it was less positive? We try and be REAL and support each other, but not wallow.
    If you could maybe think of WHY those other groups didn’t feel right to you I would be REALLY interested to hear so that I can learn from it! =)

  2. Tanya Savko Post author

    Hi Goldie,

    I think the other meetings didn’t feel right to me because the kids weren’t there. It felt so good to have them at this recent meeting, interacting with each other. The parents learned a lot that way, too. Everyone seemed to feel very positive about it. Maybe not all meetings should include the kids, but definitely some should.

  3. Bonnie Sayers (autismfamily)

    the autism twitter day is Tuesday.
    I want you to share the puberty series and whatever else you have. When you tweet use #ASD in each tweet on autism for TUE and maybe follow me there – http://www.twitter.com/autismfamily

    This meeting sounds like a good one. We did a support group that was weekly and funded by Reg Ctr, but kids in one room doing crafts while kids in another. Is there a website for this group? Would be nice to start something here in LA. I am up for secretary of the CAC with LAUSD tomorrow for elections. Have to catch up on reading during holiday break when less pressed for time.

  4. M

    I’m curious about Nigel’s impressions of it (if it’s okay to ask). Did he interact at all or just observe? Sounds like a really great atmosphere. I’ve been very conflicted about whether or not I would attend a support group, but we currently have none in the area, so that’s that for now. I want to cut and paste yours for our area.

  5. Casdok

    Glad you have found a support group that feels right.
    Ive been lucky enough to hear Wendy Lawson and Donna Williams speak both helped me enormously.

  6. Fearless Females

    I’m so jealous!!! I wanted to find a great group (like this one) and there was one advertised through the paper that I write for and the contact person NEVER called me or emailed me back It was designed for kids with aspergers and their parents to do “fun” things together… Thanks for reminding me, maybe I will search my files to look it for it.

    I am so glad for you and Nigel to have such a positive and pleasant experience..

  7. Tanya Savko Post author

    Hi M,

    Nigel surprised me, as he often does. There was a 19-year-old with Asperger’s there, and I figured Nigel would enjoy hanging out with him, since he was the closest in age of the attendees. Instead, Aidan played a game of Risk with the 19-year-old, and Nigel watched Finding Nemo with some of the younger kids. I guess I should have expected that from my Disney fan of a son. (Don’t ever play Disney Trivial Pursuit with that guy.)

  8. jess

    Nigel, just as he is, can give some young parents hope for their child’s development, that’s something. That’s really something.

    indeed it is, lady .. same could be said about his mom, you know

  9. Goldie

    hmmm… at our group we offer simultaneous activities for the children. does that count? (some do NOT, as you know and the kids stay home) we try to help them have fun and maybe grow a little bit.

    I will take your advice & see if sometimes we can do “family fun” nights.

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