Autism Spectrum Disorder and Family Functioning: A Therapist’s Perspective

  • Susannah G. PoeEmail author
  • Christopher K. Owen


With two decades of experience diagnosing and providing intervention support for families and their children on the autism spectrum, I (Dr. Susannah Poe) have had the privilege of working with families and learning how an autism diagnosis can impact the entire family. This chapter opens with an exploration into three diverse stages of readiness parents arrive with when obtaining an autism diagnosis (i.e., prepared, apprehensive, and unaware) as well as advice on how to best support and empower each family. Following a diagnosis, families with a child on the autism spectrum must alter expectations and formulate a new understanding of “normal.” Families entering into this new normal must reconcile with their child’s autism diagnosis, navigate confusing service systems, provide constant care and supervision for their child, cope with unwelcoming communities, and face financial difficulties. Providers should be aware of the diverse challenges families with children on the autism spectrum may encounter and be prepared to give them guidance and support. With the right support and guidance, these families become skilled caregivers, expert advocates, and community builders—enabling them to provide support for their child as well as other families.


Autism spectrum disorder Special needs parenting Disabilities Special needs children 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsWest Virginia University School of MedicineMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.West Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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