What can grandparents do to help their family with an autistic child?
Lots of grandparents feel a bit hopeless when a child with autism comes along. They’ve had brilliant relationships with the other grandchildren but this one needs a little more work. This child doesn’t want nursery rhymes, books or chocolate. I’ve found it’s always parents that are targeted with the awareness and the sessions to understand autism and it’s generally upto the parents to pass that knowledge along. But who is it who cares for the children when parents have to work etc. You find with an autistic child people aren’t exactly throwing themselves at your door offering their services.
I have one piece of advice for grandparents stop judging, like really stop.
Drop in on your son or daughter and there’s a pile of dishes on the bench, the washing hasn’t been done, the kids are having chicken nuggets for the 4th time this week, there’s toys tipped out of boxes in the living room and the kids have got odd socks on. The LAST thing they need to see is your judgey face and a sly tut. First world problems? – I don’t think so.
You see snippets of their stressful lives. Often running on minimum sleep and maximum anxiety. Marital problems can creep in and siblings crave more attention. If you need to pick a battle I guarantee the dishes and washing will not win. Autism parents can be burning the candle at both ends can’t sleep, won’t sleep being a major issue (if your little cherub allows of course in that 3 hour sleep window). Exhausted but a mind full of worry waiting on their pillow. Will he go to school tomorrow?, will he have a meltdown in the taxi?, is he going to eat? Will he sleep more than 3 hours? etc who do we have appointments with this week paediatrician, speech and language, educational psychologist then a little skip forward to what if I die tomorrow who will care for him, this plays on a loop every single night, not just mine but also my husbands.
You can help though.
Mow that lawn, put the washing through, offer your babysitting services even if it’s just for an hour, make them a pie and drop it in for tea. Little things.
I’m very lucky that my parents pitch in. My dad takes Reilly for walks and let’s us go for tea sometimes and my Mam does housey things to help, she’s still gets very upset during meltdowns and doesn’t look after Reilly alone, she’s pretty much terrified of him. Rightly so just 2 days ago he was lining his paddling pool up underneath the upstairs bathroom window. He never got the opportunity as the window is locked but he literally has no fear of anything other than the stampede on The Lion King.
All hands need to be on deck regardless of whether that deck is strewn with Thomas the Tank toys and the missing odd socks. Team work is essential. You must remember that lots of parents feel like they are failing without anyone else’s judgement. We are our own worst critics and trust me we don’t critique lightly.
Nickname for today : Stig (of the dump)
Grandparents all is not lost! watch this space for more info regarding grandparents and autism coming soon.
Reilly at his Grandad’s. Nutella on toast every night straight from school.
For years we had the ‘use your knife and fork’ comments from well meaning grandparents…it’s only now that our daughter is 8 and still can’t use cutlery that they have realised there’s no point expecting her to fit in with their ideas of what’s acceptable behaviour!
I hear you! My favourite is just cut his hair when he’s asleep 🙂
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Great article! It is so nice to have grandparents who participate. I agree that often they don’t know what to do! I’ve had grandparents attend my trainings in the past. It was really wonderful to watch as different generations came together to learn and interact to help the child with autism engage and progress in his learning goals. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
They are essential. Team work for sure 😃 xx
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