Supporting a Grandchild with Autism
Are you the grandparent of a grandchild diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Grandparents can play an important role in the life of their grandchild and develop a close bond that is beneficial and rewarding for both the child and the adult. Grandparents can also provide emotional support and respite when parents are stressed.
Building a relationship with your grandchild starts with learning about autism, your grandchild’s likes and dislikes, routines, and preferred activities. It’s also useful to know what helps to soothe the child if they have an emotional meltdown. Every family is different, but here are some general tips to be supportive of your grandchild and their parents:
- Since children with autism do well with structure and consistency, try to schedule regular times each week to spend with your grandchild, assuming you live close by.
- Plan an activity that your grandchild enjoys, but go with the flow. Children’s interests and preferences often change.
- Remember that if something upsets the child and they have a meltdown, it’s not because they’re misbehaving, it’s because they’re experiencing an overwhelming emotional or sensory overload. The main goal for you as a grandparent is to stay calm yourself, ensure the child is safe, and engage with the child in a calming routine when the meltdown has run its course.
- Focus on your grandchild’s abilities, not their disabilities or limitations. Learn what your grandchild’s special talents and interests are and go from there.
- Always follow the parents’ lead when it comes to dietary restrictions, sleep routines, and calming techniques they use with their child. Respect their decisions and keep in mind that raising a child with autism can be very stressful and cause strain on a marriage. Offer to babysit your other grandchildren, make a meal, or help the family in other ways when you can.
Grandparents can find a wealth of online resources about autism, including a free guide for grandparents from Autism Speaks.
Harsha Autism Centers provide ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Centers can help please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (812) 233-8833.