Resolve to Get Connected!

I wonder how the practice of making resolutions for the New Year began? I guess it makes sense given that January 1st is the start of a brand new year and, theoretically at least, anything’s possible. In the Autism Tennessee office I could tell you it’s January, even without a calendar, just based on the number of calls I get from parents determined to finally get that diagnosis, find new therapies, learn more about autism, find a new school situation, etc., etc., etc. This year I’d also like to suggest something else to put on your resolutions list, something that may change your life forever. Join a support group!

Okay, that sounds easy enough, right? But then you think, “Oh, wait; I don’t have time for that!” I thought so too, but quickly found that the other parents I met and spoke with at these meetings became my lifeline to sanity as well as my go-to experts on everything from toilet training to sleep issues (and a million things more!). We met monthly back then, taking turns hosting each other in our homes. There was no Autism TN, nor anything resembling a resource and information center, so we were all we had. We shared everything….triumphs and tribulations, stories about our kids, school experiences. We celebrated each small, miraculous step forward and, on occasion, comforted each other on the days we experienced the inevitable setbacks. I met some of the best friends I have to this day at those meetings, and I cherish every one of them because we share such a unique experience!

Nowadays, there really isn’t any excuse not to get involved in a support group because so many of them are online, and you can participate as you have the time. I belong to quite a few Facebook groups myself, even though I still prefer the face-to-face ones. However, I definitely see the value in these groups too. Besides offering flexibility, you are able to connect with a wide range of people with varying backstories and experiences, each carrying a wealth of information. No one has to “reinvent the wheel” anymore. Just ask, and you will get a dozen or more responses offering solutions to your particular problem!!

We have a list of support groups (both in person and online) on our website, AutismTN.org/Resources/Local Resources/Support Groups. I urge you to check them out and see if you can find one that suits your needs. There’s even one for Dads (but we don’t call it a support group…it’s a Men’s Dinner ). If you don’t find one near enough to you, consider starting one yourself. It’s really not that hard, and we can help get you started. I did it when my son was a toddler and there was no Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to connect people. It may be the very best resolution you’ve ever kept!

Wishing you a wonderful 2016,

Carolyn Shindler

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