Living With Autism – Support Groups

Autism Through The Lifespan

  • One  in 59 children are diagnosed with  an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).   ASD  is often thought of as a childhood condition, with public attention focused primarily on children and the importance of early detection and intervention.   Autism is a lifelong condition and the quality of life for individuals with autism depends not only on the foundation provided in childhood, but  on ongoing supports that are specific to their educational, medical, social, recreational, family and employment needs as they age. .    .

    Early Detection and Intervention
    The Autism Society WNY Chapter believes in  the importance of  early identification and access to effective treatments before age 3.   Autism behaviors can become apparent as early as 18 months.   Early diagnosis and treatment  of autism can reduce lifetime care costs by two-thirds.

    Building a Strong Foundation from Childhood through Adolescence
    The Autism Society WNY Chapter provides information and referral to  parents and caregivers building  treatment and educational programs so that all children and adolescents can reach their fullest potential.  At this stage, it is important to understand how the school system can help (for example, through an Individualized Education Plan) and how to prepare for the transition to adult life.

    A Life of Happiness and Dignity
    The Autism Society WNY Chapter believes that  every adult with autism should have access to services and supports that maximize independence and secure the highest quality of life possible.  For some, employment and living in the community are goals to pursue during adulthood.   For others, being in a safe and fulfilling environment both at “home” and in the community is a goal.   Self-advocacy is also important to many people on the spectrum, as more people with autism are speaking out about their experiences, identities and needs.

    The Autism Society Western New York Chapter is a mostly volunteer organization.    We  provide two support groups that meet once a month, one for the Northtowns and one for the Southtowns,   We hold twice yearly workshops and provide  information and referral through the three critical stages of life to  people with autism and their families and the professionals who work with our children.

    Autism Through The Lifespan:

Local Support Groups

    Autism Society of WNY Support Meetings
    Parent Support Groups are put on hold until further notice.
    Parent Support Coffees are held once per month. The parent Support Coffees are designed so that parents can talk to other parents in a comfortable environment.
    Contact Info: For more information call the office at 716-633-2275 or 352-1512 or email Check EVENTS page at for times and dates of Parent Support Coffees.

    Other Buffalo Area Support Groups

    Grand Island Autism Support Group
    Meeting Time:  First Tuesday of the month, September – June. 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    Location: Realty USA, 2139 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island NY 14072   Peer-Run support group. Come and meet other families that are affected by Autism. We want to share ideas and experiences, vent about the brick walls we’ve hit, and most importantly realize that we are a growing community and that we are not alone.
    Contact Info:
    Contact Vienna at 716-430-5118 or for more information and to RSVP to attend. Visit Facebook page at

    Group for Parents of Children with ASD
    Meeting Time
    Monthly on Wednesday from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm .  Please check local TV stations for cancellation info.
    Aspire Building, 7 Community Drive, Cheektowaga, NY 14225
    To provide a welcoming environment for parents and other caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders to meet, share experiences, ask questions and receive support. Moderated by Kathy Ralabate Doody, PhD, a parent of a child with autism, Instructor, Exceptional Education at Buffalo State; and Jana Mertz, MBA, Program Coordinator, The Children’s Guild Foundation Autism Spectrum Disorder Center, Osihei Children’s Hospital.   If you are interested in attending but have transportation or other barriers that would limit your participation, please let us know.
    Contact Info:
    For more information about the support group or to RSVP to the meetings, please call (716) 323-6435 or e-mail  Sign up on line so we have enough materials available www. tiny
    FREE to attend  Reservations are greatly appreciated. Call 716-323-6435

    Niagara County Group for Parents of Children with ASD
    Meeting Time/Dates:
    Meets once a month from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. .Light refreshments will be served.    Please check local TV stations for cancellation info.
    Empower Children’s Academy, 9812 Lockport Road, Niagara Falls, NY 14304
    Provides a welcoming environment for parents and other caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders to meet, share experiences, ask questions and receive support. Moderated by Kim Newton, Licensed Master Social Worker, Empower Children’s Academy  and Patrick Harnden, Qualified DD Professional, Parent Network.   Childcare available.   Reservations for childcare are required a minimum of 1 week in advance.   Registration forms are required for all new children and are available at or by calling 332-4170.
    Contact Info:
    RSVP to attend or (716) 332-4170 .  FREE to attend – all are welcome but reservations are appreciated. . If you are interested in attending but have transportation or other barriers that would limit your participation, please let us know.

    Group for Parents of Teenagers with ASD
    Meeting Time/Dates:
    Meets on THURSDAY each month 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm. Light dinner will be served.  Please check local TV stations for cancelation info. Location: Wegman’s Cafe- Back Conference Room, 601 Amherst St, Buffalo, NY 14207
    Provides a welcoming environment for parents and other cargivers of children with autism spectrum disorders to meet, share experiences, ask questions and receive support. All are welcome to attend but group is geared towards parents of teenagers who may be transitioning to higher education, employment  and/or independent living.   Moderated by Tonia Weichmann, Transition Coordinator, Parent Network of WNY and Jana Mertz, MBA Program Coordinator The Childeren’s Guild Foundation Autism Spectrum Disorder Center, Oishei Children’s Hospital, Buffalo.  A Group for Teens with Aspergers will be available at the same time with prior registration.    Please contact Jana Mertz at 716-323-6435 or for more info.
    Contact Info:
    All are welcome but reservations are appreciated. For confirm dates and/or questions please call (716) 323-6435 or email If you are interested in attending but have transportation or other barriers that would limit your participation, please let us know.

    Family and Caregiver Group DDAWNY
    Meeting Time/Location:
    Meets 3rd Tuesday of each month from  5:30 to 6:45 pm at Aspire of WNY, 7 Community Drive, Cheektowaga NY    RSVP online or call  (716) 332-4170 or email  
    DDAWNY Family Committee Focus:   A support group to inform family members about the rights, protections, services and options available for their loved one with developmental disabilities(DD). Their purpose is to provide individuals with DD a range of choices for their living opportunities and to help family members become effective advocates.   Free Child care available.  Reservations required by Friday prior to meeting.    Transportation also available if needed.
    Contact Info:  716-332-4170  or sign up for email list on web site   Check out our Facebook  page.  
    Contact: (716) 877-7007;; Facebook: DDAWNYFamily Committee Focus: Advocacy and living options for individuals with DD or email

    Buffalo RPM Support Group
    Meeting Time:
    For  those who are using Rapid Prompting  or are interested in learning more about it.  
    Contact Info:
    Call 716-406-7018 or email 

    Family Support Group (Buffalo)  – Mental Health Advocates of WNY 
    Meeting Time:
    Meets 3rd Friday of each month 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
    Mental Health Advocates of WNY  999 Delaware Avenue , Buffalo, NY 14214
    This is an open invitation to parents, caregivers, foster, grandparents and other family members raising children with special social, emotional, or behavioral needs to join us at our monthly family support group. There is a bilingual facilitator for those who speak Spanish. Share your experiences to help create a better system for children and families. Learn what resources are available to get the help you need.
    Contact Info:
    Contact: 886-1242 Ext. 346. or

    Bornhava Support Groups
    Meeting Time:
    Call contact person for WOW Moms or Men’s Forum for meeting dates and times.
    Meets at Bornhava, 25 Chateau Terrace, Amherst, NY.
    Evening groups meet once a month throughout the school year, Oct. – May. Most parents have children birth-5 years old. They have two groups, WOW Moms and Men’s Forum.
    Contact Info:
    Contact Ann Lindmann-Czajka at 716-839-1655 for WOW Moms and contact Ellen Crawford at 716-839-1655 for Men’s Forum.

    Faith-Based Special Needs Parent Support Group
    Meeting Time:
    Meets the 2nd Thursday every month from 6:15 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
    Kenmore Alliance Church, Room 303, 175 Bonnett Ave., Tonawanda, NY 14150
    Gather with other moms and dads who understand what you’re experiencing, regardless of your child’s diagnosis. This group supports and encourages one another as they pray together and share resources. They also look at what the Bible has to say about our kids and our role in their lives.
    Contact Info:
    For information, contact:
    Phil & Shannon Welty at 417-3042 (text/call) or e-mail

    Sibling Support 

    WNY Sibshop at Canisius College
    Meeting Time:
    Canisius College
    Sibshop provides support and guidance to siblings of children with developmental needs. Sibshops are lively, action packed 4 hour workshops that celebrate the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of children with special needs. For ages 6 – 12. Cost $20 for first child, $15 for each additional child. They also have a library for siblings.  There is a recently formed group for teens.
    Contact Info:
    Pre- Registration is required. For a registration form and more information contact Dr. Susan Putnam at 716-888-2895 or

    Individuals with  ASD 

    Asperger’s/HF Autism Support Group.  
    Meeting Locations
    Buffalo Group meets first Thursday of the month from 4:30 to 5:30 at Autism Services, 699 Hertel Avenue.  RSVP Maureen at 716-631-5777 ext 109 or
    Southtowns Group meets first Wednesday every month from 5-6 pm , ASI Resource Center , 97 Main Street, Hamburg NY
    A support group for adults with High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.
    Contact Info:
    Southtowns Group  RSVP  Veronica Federiconi at 716-631-5777 ext 318 or   Buffalo Group contact Maureen at 716-631-5777 ext 109 or

    20 Something Group – ages 18 and up – Mental Health Advocates of WNY 
    Meeting Time:
    Meets the 3rd Friday of each month from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
    Mental Health Advocates of WNY, 999 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214
    A social support group for young adults 18 years of age and up. Parent group meets at the same time in a separate room. A peer run program within the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Erie County, Inc. focuses on issues affecting families who have a family member that has an emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenge.
    Contact Info:
    Childcare is available. Must RSVP at (716) 886-1242 ext. 346. Indicate number of children requiring childcare.

    Teen Peer Support Group – ages 13-18. – Mental Health Advocates of WNY 
    Meeting Time:  Twice a month 
    Meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Parent group meets at the same time in a separate room.
    Mental Health Advocates of WNY, 999 Delaware Road, Buffalo, NY 14214.   Also meets in Hamburg at the Wesleyan Church , 4999 McKinley Pkwy on 3rd Friday from 6 to 7:30
    This youth & teen peer support group is run by the Mental Health Association of Erie County, Inc, and is open to youth between the ages of 13-18. This group gives teens the opportunity to connect with peers to discuss and explore pathways to recovery. The group offers a safe place for youth to receive support as well to celebrate accomplishments and practice self-care skills under the facilitation of a Youth Peer Mentor.
    Contact Info:
    For questions, contact M, Salamon at @ 716-886-1242 Ext. 346  Erie County Mental Health Association

    Buffalo Aspies Meetup Group
    Meeting Time:
    Meets monthly.   Contact or Cindy Mikulik at 716-204-5385 for dates and times .
    The Buffalo Aspies Meetup Group provides programming geared toward adult (18+) individuals with Asperger’s (or Aspies, as the community calls themselves). The group consists of those with Asperger’s, as well as neurotypical individuals, who come together to provide support and a safe place to work on developing friendships and social skills. Participation is free.
    Contact Info:
    Cindy Mikulik at 716-204-5385 or

    AANE (Asperger/Autism Network) Online Support Groups
    Meeting Time:
    Varies. Go to AANE’s website.
    Members of AANE (Asperger/Autism Network) are invited to join one of AANE’s Online Support Groups: ANNE-Children-Parents Group; AANE-Teens-Parents Group; AANE-Spouse/Partners Group (for spouses/partners in relationship with adults with Asperger’s); ANNE-Divorced from/Co-Parenting with an Ex Group (for those who are coparenting with an ex partener with Asperger’s); AANE-Adults-Parents Group (for parents of adults with AS and related conditions); and AANE Granparent On-line Group.
    Contact Info:
    For information about the various online support groups go to For a direct link to AANE’s online support groups go to the Autism Society of WNY information page and scroll down to Asperger’s /HF Autism Resources. To become and AANE member go to

    Rochester Area 

    AutismUp (formerly know as UNYFEAT) – Rochester
    Meeting Time:
    See website for events and programs.
    AutismUp formerly known as UNYFEAT is a Rochester based group that provides parent support and information. They have a variety of programs including social skills programs for children and conferences.
    Contact Info:
    Phone: (585)248-9011 Website:

    Special Education Groups  – various districts  

    Local SEPTSA and SEPAC and One-SEPTA
    Meeting Time:
    Check websites or contact person
    SEPTSA (Special Education Parent, Teacher, Student Association) and
    SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Committee) Groups
    While not specifically for autism, they are another source of support and a great way to network with other parents in your school district. Call your school district to see if they have a SEPTSA or SEPAC.  One-SEPTA –  for Niagara, Orleans and Erie County parents of children with special needs.
    Contact info:

    Clarence SEPTSA: or email
    Williamsville SEPTSA:  Email:
    Buffalo Public Schools SEPAC:  Contact: Rosemary Arnone 716-816-4747 or email                                                                                                 Niagara, Orlean, and Erie County   One-SEPTA – Contact  or go to      

    Olean Area 

    Olean Parent Group for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
    Meeting Time:
    Meets on the 2nd Monday of each month from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., excluding July and August.
    Light refreshments will be served.Location: Trinity United Methodist Church, 131 N 9th Street, Olean, NY.
    Provides a welcoming environment for parents and other caregives of children with autism spectrum disorders to meet, share experiences, ask questions and receive support. Moderated by Christie Chesebro, MSEd, Autism Service Coordinator and Parent, The Guidance Center in Bradford, PA and Karen O’Dell, MSEd, BCBA Board Certified Behavior Analyst Autism Services Specialist and Parent, Olean City School District.
    Contact Info:
    All are welcome but reservations are appreciateed. Please call Karen: 716-307-9905 or email Peg: If you are interested in attending but have transportation or other barriers that would limit your participation, please let us know.

Starter Resources

      This paper is geared toward parents of newly diagnosed autistic children and parents of young autistic children who are not acquainted with many of the basic issues of Autism. The authors’ discussion is based on a large body of scientific research.
      This guide is the first in a series of planned publications that will examine and illuminate various aspects of living with Autism. This guide is a basic tool that will help you ask questions and investigate issues related to treatment for your child. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download this resource.
      Located at Oishei Children’s Outpatient Center 1001 Main Street.   During one visit, each child is seen by a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist, and child psychologist. After the visit, the team discusses the child and determines the diagnosis and/or need for any additional testing or services. The Center has a full time social worker and nurse and offers a monthly parent group, newly diagnosed sessions and information resources for parents of children diagnosed with ASD. Contact: (716) 878-7600
      The Early Intervention Program is a statewide program that provides many different types of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
    • FIRST 100 DAYS
      The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit is created specifically for newly diagnosed families, to make the best possible use of the 100 days following the diagnosis of autism. They also have a 100 day toolkit for Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism.
      The ECDC provides free information, referral, technical assistance and support to families, professionals, and community agencies concerned with children birth to five with suspected or diagnosed delays or disabilities. Provides ongoing community training programs for both parents and professionals. Consider joining the ECDC information distribution list. This is an all inclusive list, this is not just autism information. Please send an email to and enter parent or professional in the subject line.
      Formerly Kirsch Developmental Services Center provides evaluations for children who are suspected of having an autism spectrum disorder  and services after the diagnosis.   An Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network Site that provides specialized treatments for  health and behavior challenges associated with ASD.   Also provide information and resources to families to help them get the right services or support in their community.   Contact: (585) 275-2986
      Administered by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The Guide was developed to inform families about the wide range of supports and services available to qualified individuals and to assist them in accessing those services for their loved one with a developmental disability.
    • GLUTEN/CASEIN/SOY FREE DIET    TACA  provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. This website has extensive resources for starting the Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet.
    •  DDAWNY 2017 Guide to Services
      This guide is intended to assist individuals, family members, community organizations and school district personnel who are seeking services and community supports to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities.

    • Parent to Parent
      Parent to Parent of NYS supports and connects families of individuals with special needs. They provide the support and connection through their parent matching program; information and referral; and trainings.

    • Parent Network of Western New York
      A community resource for families of individuals with special needs and for professionals who work with these families. Parent Network’s goal is to empower families to successfully advocate for their children with special needs and to see that they receive proper care and education by offering seminars, workshops, conferences, information and referral services, and resources.

    • New Autism Speaks Sleep Strategies Guide
      This informational booklet is designed to provide parents with strategies to improve sleep in their child affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

    • Autism Spectrum Disorders Resources
      The Children’s Guild Autism Spectrum Disorder Center  has a collection of ASD resources including info on haircuts, toilet training, medicaid waiver services and travel resources.  

    • Continuing Parent’s Health Insurance Coverage for Adults with ASD       Adult child with a disability can continue on parent’s health insurance after the age normally terminated.  Ask your current health insurance carrier for a form/details on how to document such disability and an inability to achieve “self-sustaining employment”.  Must be submitted within 31 days of termination.  Read link for details.     

Safety Options

    • PROJECT LIFESAVER OF WNY Law enforcement based tracking program for children/adults with disabilities and elderly with dementia who are prone to wandering.  Now available in Western New York .  It has a 100% success rate (with an average search time of less than 30 minutes).
    • KEEP ME SAFE IDS    Customized QR Code Bracelets protect personal information from the naked eye but can be easily scanned via smartphone to provide first responders and family with vital information when a child bolts.
    • BIG RED SAFETY TOOLKIT  National Autism Association FREE Toolkit  for a caregivers of children/adults with ASD  who are prone to wandering off from a safe environment, and whose diagnosis may interfere with their ability to recognize danger and/or stay safe.
    • FIRST RESPONDER TOOLKIT   National Autism Association also  provides tools and resources for First Responders to prepare for potential searches for a missing child/adult with ASD.
    • AUTISM AND WANDERING: A DANGEROUS COMBINATION   Article: When Liane Kupferberg Carter’s son Mickey began “escaping,” as she calls it, around age 2, “he was greased lightning,” she says. “I couldn’t take my eyes off him for an instant or he’d disappear—in malls, supermarkets, or in any public space.”
    • HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES WAIVER (OPWDD)  OPWDD administers the HCBS Waiver.   Waiver provides a variety of services and supports that are tailored to each person’s needs, including  habilitation services, respite care, service coordination, and adaptive technologies.   Services/staff provided by a variety of not-for-profit agencies or by OPWDD’s Developmental Disabilities Services Office (DDSO) staff.
    • ENVIRONMENTAL MODIFICATIONS (E-MODS)   Physical adaptations to the home that can increase or maintain the individual’s ability to live at home with independence. E-MODS are NOT limited to, ramps, lifts, hand rails, bathroom modifications (such as roll-in showers).   E-Mods can include modifications that address the individual’s sensory deficits, such as Braille identifications systems and strobe light smoke detectors and alarm devices, and modifications that promote a safer environment for individuals with challenging behaviors, including window protection, reinforcement of walls, open-door signal devices and durable wall finishes. To be eligible for E-MODS services through OPWDD, the individual must be enrolled in the Home and Community-Based Services Waiver or the CAH Wavier.
    • ASSURANCE WIRELESS   Individual with disability can apply for  FREE Assurance Wireless phone, 200 FREE minutes of wireless service each month for local and long distance calling within the U.S., and more. You may qualify if you receive state or federal assistance. See website for details.
    • MEDICALERT FOUNDATION   With a MedicAlert medical ID, emergency responders, police and good Samaritans can quickly identify missing people and connect them with MedicAlert’s 24/7 call center to reunite them with loved ones and make sure they receive the emergency care they need.