As the grandparent of a child on the autism spectrum, you might be wondering how you can make a difference in your grandchild’s life. Here are some tips to suggest what you can do to be more involved with your grandchild:
- Research and educate yourself about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Milestones can offer you many resources for learning about your grandchild’s diagnosis, as well as informing you of social activities and local entertainment for you and your grandchild.
- If you are comfortable using the internet, joining online chat groups can offer you support as well as give you ideas of things to do with your grandchild.
- Look for activities that all of your grandchildren can participate in together, such as going to special movie showings that accommodate children with special needs, playing games, or doing something together outdoors.
- Sit in on therapy sessions to learn strategies that work for your grandchild.
- Participate in the goal planning or IEP meetings for your grandchild, to learn what their target goals are.
- Follow the parents’ lead regarding your grandchild’s schedule, food items, games and behavior plan.
- Save the parents time and energy by offering to bring over dinner or transport the grandchild to and from nearby activities.
- Respite care is essential for the parents and often difficult and costly to find. If you are able, offer to babysit from time to time with no strings attached.
- Spend quality time with typical siblings in the family as well as the child with ASD. Siblings are often eager to get their share of attention so shower them with yours.
- Take the pressure off when it comes to holidays. Be flexible and realize that a grandchild with special needs may not be able to tolerate a long visit. Before a family event, ask the parents what you can do to make the event more comfortable and enjoyable.
- Be an extra set of eyes and ears. If you see a good article, book, or upcoming show on autism, tell family members about it so they can tune in.
- As you know, parenting is not always an easy job. Tell your child how much you appreciate and admire the care they are giving to your grandchild. Everyone needs positive reinforcement!
The Cleveland Clinic has a workshops series, some suggested for grandparents.
A Grandparents Guide is a free guide from Autism Speaks.
A Grandparent Support Group is offered in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.