When my son was first diagnosed, I was bewildered and in a detached sort of denial. The "Let Me Hear Your Voice" type books didn't help. If anything, it made things worse. I really did begin to think that most kids are mainstreamed and as time went on with a little therapy and dietary changes everything would be "normal".
That is giving parents false hope. Most autistic kids do improve but will never be self-sufficient or "mainstream".* They may learn some vocational skills like stocking shelves or something but most do not go on to marry, have kids and such.
My son has made remarkable progress this year largely due to exceptional teachers and staff at his school. The previous year was an utter disaster for the same reason.
I remember when I read about the DuPont executive who dropped his teenaged son off in a hospital emergency room because he and his wife thought they could no longer care for him. I was disgusted with them and thought they should be criminally punished. A few years later (after my son was diagnosed) I recognized they were desperate and didn't know how to cope with the problem. Sadly, many people have nowhere to turn. My wife and I have days like this. Imagine a 6 year old who has a two hour tantrum where he's inconsolable, uncontrollable and hits you. Now imagine that after he hasn't slept more than 4 hours a night for two weeks. How would you cope?
If nothing else, my son has been a blessing because he gave me a very large dose of much needed compassion. For that, I am eternally grateful.
*Parents of disabled children are required to learn new (and sometimes Orwellian) words. Examples:
Special needs child = disabled
exceptional = disabled
typical child = normal child
neurotypical child = normal child
comorbidity = child with multiple disabilities (very common with autism)