The KOC Blog

Social Support Networks in Times of Need

by Jane Isbister | Jun 11, 2014

This week was both a learning experience and an emotionally challenging time for me. The sudden passing of the long time family dog was a significant emotional blow. Pepper was a constant companion and an integral part of all aspects of my life, so her departure was a huge loss. At the same time the recognition and support received from family and friends was enormously uplifting and greatly appreciated. In reflection I realized how fortunate I am to have a social support network to help me with life’s challenges and how important social support networks are to all of us.

Another event that I experience this week was the opportunity to sit in on and participate in a social support group for young adults with Autism. This was one of many that I have attended over the past six weeks in order to not only spread the word about the Kinark ASD Respite programs, but also to gain a better understanding of those who seek our services. I was particularly struck by how appreciative all the parents were around this activity. I was also once again enlightened about the complexity and challenges of providing care for an ASD child. The dialogue between parents as they dropped off their children was a supportive sharing of information about resources and learnings around their children’s needs. What was started as young adults recreational respite  had also developed into an extremely helpful social support network for parents, meeting an obvious need.

While the needs of ASD child are unique, the value of a social support network for parents is constant. Behavioral interventions, direct care and family funding remain priorities for the continually expanding ASD population, but we should not forget the importance of fostering social support networks.