Families with an autistic child also should understand that every member will need help and should consider undergoing regular family counseling, Ball said.
"It is a whole-family disorder," he said. "Everyone is affected. Families need to come up with a plan so they can meet everyone's needs."
Finding resources can be challenging, Ball and Grossman said. Grossman knows that firsthand as he has child with autism, who now is 23.
"I was very angry and very frustrated because I couldn't find any help," he recalled. "I didn't know what to do." But he said that the group he now runs, the Autism Society, was key in helping him find doctors and therapists to help his son.
Grossman also speaks from personal knowledge when he says that the best way to help children with autism is to pay attention to how they act and what draws their interest and to then use that knowledge to teach them life skills.
"The goal here is to have a person who has a satisfying quality of life and is a contributing member of their community," Grossman added. "With the proper supports, we believe everyone can achieve that."
Autism Speaks has more on autism.
A companion article looks at living with autism, from one family's perspective.
SOURCES: Lee Grossman, president and chief executive, Autism Society; James Ball, Ed.D., president and chief executive, JB Autism Consulting, Cranbury, N.J.
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