Grandparents have a unique role in the lives of their grandchild who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even if you live far away or have your own challenges, you can still be an important source of support, guidance, connection, advocacy and love.
Here are some ways you can help your grandchild who has autism and his parents.
First and foremost, make sure that you’re comfortable with helping. If you feel prepared to help, always let your adult child take the lead as caregiver. Ask what you can specifically do to be supportive and helpful.
If you live close by, you can offer to care for your grandchild for short periods of time to give mom or dad a break. Just providing supervision or an extra pair of hands at home can be a big help. While a parent takes your grandchild with autism to a therapy appointment or attends a school meeting, you may want to offer to stay with any siblings. You can provide sibling support by helping with homework, attending recitals, or going to school programs and after school activities with your typical grandchildren to give them special recognition and time when mom or dad aren’t available.
You can provide emotional support to your adult children. Many grandparents take great pride in their adult child’s strength and commitment to their grandchild. Most families find that facing this challenge together, with acceptance and optimism, brings the family closer. Many parents of kids with autism say that getting verbal approval and support from their own parents means a lot.
When it is possible to do so, offering financial support can make a big difference. In addition to contributing their own time and resources, some grandparents get involved with fundraising on behalf of their grandchild, applying for grants or working with organizations that support autism treatment and research.
In addition to helping with your own grandchild with autism, you can become an effective advocate for all people living with autism. If you have the time, resources and determination to take action, work to raise awareness or change policies or laws.
Finally, grandparents need their own information and support. There are books, online resources and support groups especially for grandparents. You may also use the Educational Resource Center at Marcus Autism Center or look into joining our Grandparents Program.
Email our team or call 404-785-5187 for more information.
We recognize that every child is unique and that the content of this article may not work for everyone. This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. We hope these tips will serve as a jumping-off point for finding the best approach to helping a child with autism. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.