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When choosing an Asperger's support group, you should consider the structure and facilitation of the group, the makeup of the group and the location, cost and convenience of group meetings. Other considerations include group sponsorship and the way in which meetings are organized. Finally, consider the benefits and problems of online as well as in-person support groups for people who are living with Asperger's syndrome.
When you first contact the organizer of an Asperger's support group, it is a good idea to find out about the group's membership. Some groups might be comprised of people who actually have Asperger's syndrome, and other groups might be for friends, spouses and family members of individuals who have the condition. You also should find out whether a person needs to have an “official” diagnosis from a mental health or medical professional before being allowed to join the group. Some support groups might require members to submit documentation of a diagnosis, but others might accept people who have diagnosed themselves with Asperger's syndrome or who are questioning whether they have this disorder. If you have been diagnosed with Asperger's and are uncomfortable attending meetings on your own, ask whether you can bring a support person with you to meetings.
The format of an Asperger's support group can vary. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome recently, you might be interested in attending a group that emphasizes education by bringing in professional educators and mental health experts to discuss the condition. You also might join an Asperger's support group that solicits assistance from career counselors and other professionals who can help members learn new life skills and independent living skills. Ask about how meetings are facilitated. If you have a preference for a group that is either peer-led or professionally led, you should take this into consideration when making a choice.
Ask about meeting times and locations. In some cases, an Asperger's support group might meet in a hospital, church or school, and other groups might meet in restaurants or coffee houses. Ideally, you should find an Asperger's support group that meets at times and in places that are convenient for you. In some instances, you might be asked to pay a small fee to attend meetings in order to help cover the costs of renting a room. If you are unsure about any group, ask whether you can attend a meeting or two without being obligated to make a financial contribution.
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