ASERT does not offer crisis services through our Resource Center. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health distress or thoughts of suicide please call or text 988 for support.
Young adult support groups are a great way to learn from others’ experiences, make friends, practice social skills, discover local resources, and stay informed about things that are happening in your community. If you are interested in starting a support group, this information sheet will give you some guidance.
Check with any autism organizations or resource centers for developmental disabilities in your area (e.g. ASERT, Autism Society of America, National Autism Association) to see if a support group that will meet your needs already exists. If there are no existing groups in your area, you may choose to start your own.
Think about what you want to accomplish with your support group and define a specific purpose for the group. Determine how diverse you would like the membership to be (e.g. a group just for individuals with autism in a certain age-range, any age, or disability-wide.) Choose a name for your group and maybe even a logo. Consider how you would like interested individuals to contact you, such as by phone, email, Facebook, or other ways. It is helpful to put this information in writing so that you can share it easily.
Get the word out about your support group. Print flyers to post in schools, churches, supermarkets, and doctor’s offices in your area. Consider contacting a local newspaper about printing an ad and post about the group online. Schools that are set up to serve children with developmental disorders may help to inform parents about your group. Some of the organizations you contacted in step 1 may also be able to help you get the word out. Also, don’t forget to contact ASERT!
Once you have a small group of interested attendees, focus on group leadership and logistics:
Sometimes things don’t work out just as planned. Allow the group to change as the needs of the group change. New members will come and older members will go for varying reasons. Consider asking for feedback from group members to determine if everyone is happy with how things are running. Be willing to talk about possible changes as a group.
This five-stop process is designed to help you think about some of the important steps to forming your own support group. If you need more information, please call the ASERT Statewide Autism Resource Center at 877-231-4244.
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.