Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Having a child diagnosed with autism can be a devastating experience for many parents and families. They may feel frustrated, confused, and afraid-they may even "grieve" for their "normal child."
Living with autism presents many new challenges for the person with autism and for his or her family and friends.
Parents of autistic children certainly have many
worries. They wonder if their children will be able to achieve, if they will
be able to be independent, and if they will be able to be happy and enjoy
Parents also probably have many worries about how the
autism will affect them and their ability to live a normal life, that is,
to care for their family and home, to hold a job, and to continue the
friendships and activities they enjoy.
Many people feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated.
For most people who have a child with autism, and even for some with autism themselves, talking about their feelings and concerns helps.
Friends and family members can be very supportive.
They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Don't
wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let
Some people don't want to burden their loved ones, or
they prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A
family therapist, social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be
helpful if you want to discuss your feelings and concerns about your child's
autism. Your health care practitioner should be able to recommend someone.
Many people who have a child with autism are profoundly helped by talking to other people in the same situation. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for families affected by autism may be available through the organizations providing treatment and education for your child.
For information about support groups in the area for families with an autistic child, contact the following organizations:
Autism is a condition that manifests in early childhoodand is characterized by qualitative abnormalities in social interactions, marked aberrant communication skills, and restricted repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.