“Some of our greatest blessings call us grandma and grandpa” – Unknown
March 29, 2023
I’ve heard it said that when a child is diagnosed with autism a grandparent suffers twice because they hurt for both their child and their grandchild. Grandparents have long struggled with how to best support their adult children when they become parents. The role of the grandparent in the new parent and child’s life is challenging enough without adding a neurodevelopmental disability into the mix. When to speak and when to hold their tongues with both their adult child and grandchild is often a hard boundary to define regardless of family circumstances. However, research has shown that grandmothers are most likely to be the first person to notice developmental differences that turn out to be symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder. This shows how important grandparents can be in the life of a child with autism. Expectations of a grandparents role in a grandchild’s life can vary from no contact to raising their grandchild playing the role of parent and grandparent. Most grandparents’ relationships fall somewhere in between these two extremes, but most also find it difficult to know how to best support their adult child and grandchild with autism. While the answer to this question is different for each family, finding what has worked for others can help each family find what works for them. Grandparents are an important part of any grandchild’s life, but for those with autism they can make all the difference. They deserve all the help they can get finding the best way to support their family members. In addition to local support groups, the resources below can help grandparents find the support they need to be able to successfully champion the next generation and be heroes in their lives.
Autism Speaks – A Grandparent’s Guide to Autism https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit/grandparents-guide-autism
Grandparent Autism Network - https://ganinfo.org/
OCALI Grandparents page - https://www.ocali.org/project/family_support/page/grandparents