For many years, autism in children has been relatively unrecognized, but thankfully this is changing. As medical research about the disorder continues, the general public is becoming more aware of its causes and treatments, which in turn helps those families who have autistic members.
Why is this so? The simple answer is the internet. The internet is a wealth of information, and people can search for data on practically anything. Much of what is written can be ignored as being too vague or uninformed, but if there is one reliable source of information, particularly about autism, that information comes from charitable institutions and related organizations.
This has made it so much easier for families to become aware and educated about autism, understanding what causes it and how it can be managed. The internet and charities have also made it possible, particularly for parents of autistic children, to share their stories about how they have struggled with the condition and how they have managed to cope.
As a natural consequence, autism has lost some of the stigma previously associated with it. While it is a life-changing disorder, as much for the parents as for the child afflicted with it, with greater understanding, management is much more possible. Support is a vital part of this management, and it is through the provision of support services and people who listen, understand, and provide in-family training, such as Lindsey Stone (see Lindsey Stone on Linkedin), that families can have a better quality of life. Often, an autistic child will experience communication problems, feel isolated from other children their own age, and lack self-confidence. The support that Lindsey and others like her provide helps the child to overcome these problems, while also training the non-autistic members of the family how to deal with any upsets or manifestations of the disorder.
The internet is great at providing this type of support. The most common and helpful are the autistic support networks. Networks of this kind enable parents with autistic children to meet and engage with other parents in similar situations, and the instant access of the internet means there is no waiting time between meetings. Rather, if a parent needs a little help or even a metaphorical shoulder to cry on, they need only access the online group and help is at hand. The support groups also organize non-virtual meetings and events, such as fundraising activities to raise money for further research into autism or raising awareness campaigns. Lastly, but perhaps most valuable, is the opportunity they provide for parents to share information surrounding autism, such as useful resources that help manage situations. This could be recommending a doctor who specializes in the disorder or even a dentist that is particularly sympathetic to special needs children.
Increased awareness surrounding any issue can only deliver benefits to those affected by the subject. In the case of autism, increased awareness achieved primarily through the internet has resulted in solid support groups and de-stigmatization of a very sensitive subject.