Monday, May 16, 2011

"Uh Huh, I Remember Those Days" - How Experienced Parents Help Newer Parents

George Singer, PhD (

In the network of resources for parents with autism, Dr. Singer's presentation was on the importance of other parents as a very important network of support.

Parent-to-Parent Organizations (
-Run by parents
-Screens and trains volunteers
-One-to-one matches
-In study, 80% of parents found this helpful and made progress on their current issues. 
-Parents had more positive perceptions about family and felt more effective as parents.
-Gives information and emotional support. 
-Match leads to connectedness. The parent no longer feels isolated.  There is someone who understands.  There are shared insider meanings. 

When receiving support from other parents experiencing the same thing, it is different because anyone can be trained to listen, but not everyone can appreciate what you go through.  "You just don't know.  What it says in the book isn't necessarily what everyone goes through."  Parents can find the humor in their situations which is a great way to cope.

There is a theory of "Life World" vs "Technical Rational."  The example was given of a sonogram.  The doctor sees the sonogram as a picture to help determine the health of the baby.  The family views the sonogram as a memento, as the first picture of their child.  In the case of autism, the technical rational would be the various people who work with your family and see that part of your life with autism.  The other parents who have shared experiences can relate to the "life world."

As parents of children with autism, we have both the "insider and outsider" framework.  We know both the autistic and the typical worlds and can go back and forth between the two and laugh.

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