with adolescents and adults with Asperger Syndrome, parents of children with AS, and couples in which one or both of the members have AS. A formal diagnosis is not necessary, since it is clear that many people who have an Asperger profile or style may not have a formal diagnosis.
These can be confusing times for families experiencing autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Over the last decade, there has been an explosion in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, from "classic" autism to Asperger Syndrome. In addition, diagnostic criteria have changed. Although there is clearly a genetic component to ASD, the pace of change has been far too rapid to be due to genetics alone. The environmental triggers of ASD, however, have not been established with certainty. Because of this lack of basic knowledge, many treatments for ASD exist, but few of them are well-researched. In addition, each person with ASD is an individual and may or may not benefit from a particular therapy.
Many therapies are oriented to a child's academic progress rather than towards meeting the challenges of family life. Families are left to try to find the best therapies for their individual child, and to cope with how ASD affects family living. The pressure to implement treatments quickly for maximum benefit, the lack of coverage by most insurance companies, and the difficulty of finding time and energy for other family members can easily result in exhaustion and a feeling of being overwhelmed and depleted. Talking about how ASD affects the family can be the first step on the road to a calmer and more balanced family life. Families living with ASD need and deserve a solid support system to work towards meeting the needs of every member of the family.