Life on the Autism spectrum

Autism support groups

Support groups can provide people with a space in which they can swap stories, share information, ideas and tips to help manage different parts of their lives or simply enjoy being with people who have had similar experiences. Some people find support groups a valuable resource while others have little interest in becoming involved. Support groups can be face to face or internet based.

“It’s good to meet likeminded people”
Several people were involved with support groups and enjoyed meeting up with other people with autism. The groups largely involved meeting socially to do things like 10 pin bowling, going to the cinema or chatting in a pub.
One woman described how it was “a breath of fresh air finding people that would understand me and would accept me”. She attended a parents group because the group for people with Asperger syndrome had mostly men attending and did activities she did not enjoy. One woman talked about how her social life revolved around friends that she had made through running a support group with her partner who is on the spectrum.

A few people talked about how they didn't feel comfortable with the thought of a support group or how there were no groups that met at a time or place that was convenient to them. Russell went to a support group but wasn't entirely comfortable with the social activities. Christopher wasn't confident to attend a local youth support group for people with Asperger syndrome.
“I find it easier to connect to people through writing rather than speaking”
Some people discussed their use of Facebook, internet chat rooms and forums as a form of support. A couple of people moderated forums for people with autism which they enjoyed. Alex is very involved in an online support group for parents and has made friends through this group who come to visit her regularly. Christopher enjoys going on forums for people with autism because it makes him feel he’s part of something. Online communication was preferable for some people because there were no difficulties interpreting facial expressions or body language. They could also use icons such as smiley faces to express themselves more effectively. Some people found it much easier to express themselves online.
One woman was cautious about using internet chat rooms because she felt vulnerable. Oliver had a “fleeting interest” in the Wrong Planet website but lost interest quite quickly, because he feels the spectrum contains such a wide range of people.

Other types of support
Several people said that their family and friends were very important to them (see ‘Family relationships’). One woman, for example, spent every weekend at her parents' house and had a good relationship with her brother and sisters. Another man, who experienced serious difficulties at work, talked about how supportive his parents were both emotionally and financially. A few of the people we talked with discussed how important their faith was to them.

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Last reviewed July 2016.
Last updated November 2010.


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