5 Ways to Be an Awesome Grandparent to Your Autistic Child

5 Ways to Be an Awesome Grandparent to Your Autistic Child

Grandparents can be a source of love, guidance, encouragement, and support for their grandchild with an autism diagnosis.

It takes a village to raise a child, and as a grandparent, you can play a supportive role in the proper upbringing of your autistic child.

Although rewarding, raising an autistic grandchild comes with its challenges. Here are some tips to be an awesome grandparent to your autistic child.

The first and most important tip is to be well-informed about autism spectrum disorder.

Hearing the news of your grandchild's autism diagnosis can be scary, but once you educate yourself on autism, you will understand more about the disorder and know how best to play a supportive role.

Also, you can provide financial support for your autistic grandchild and their parents.

Among the challenges of raising an autistic child, financial instability can limit the amount of child support the parents can afford and put a great deal of stress on the parent.

So, if you can provide financial assistance, do it without being asked!

In addition, you must understand that parenting an autistic child is different, and your traditional parenting beliefs may not work.

Autistic children, depending on where they fall on the spectrum, have certain behavioral patterns, habits, and needs that may distinguish them from other neurotypical children.

Thus, you must understand your autistic grandchild, accept them and adjust accordingly.

Read on to learn five ways you can be an awesome grandparent to your autistic child:

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Noah Suess, MA, LPC

Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

Dr. Michelle Palmieri, DSW, LSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Sarah Munk, LPC

Sarah Munk, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Katelynn Dwyer, LPCC

Katelynn Dwyer, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Shannon Hamm, LPC, CCTP

Shannon Hamm, LPC, CCTP

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Leigh Harlan, LPC

Leigh Harlan, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342

Learn About Autism 

If you've never been in a close relationship with an autistic person, you likely know little or no information about the disorder.

If so, one way you can be an awesome grandparent to your autistic child is to learn as much as possible about autism.

You can start by understanding the clinical description of autism spectrum disorder.

There are several excellent resources on autism today, so help yourself to a book, a blog post, or a video on the internet about autism.

Also, since autism spectrum disorder impacts children differently, ask your adult child to explain how autism affects your grandchild.

Discuss the challenges your grandchild may be experiencing, their strengths, interests, communication pattern, learning style, and more to understand your grandchild better.

In addition, it is essential to remember that the goal of learning about autism is to increase your understanding of your grandchild's behavioral and social presence and not to find a cure or solution.

Use the information you've gotten to connect with your grandchild and strengthen your bond together.

Provide Financial Support 

There are many expenses involved in successfully raising a child, especially an autistic one.

Parents with autistic children often have to consider therapy, respite care, programs, and resources to enrich the lives of their autistic children.

Thus, you can be an awesome grandparent to your autistic child by providing financial support when possible.

Listen to your adult child when they talk about their struggles or difficulties with raising an autistic child.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to ask for help, even from one's parents.

The best way to know when your financial support is needed is to offer your child your listening ears.

They will surely drop a hint of any financial struggles while conversing with you.

Also, you can provide the financial means for the parents to take time off and spend couples together.

If you notice your child and their spouse would love to go on a trip for a much-needed break, you can offer some financial support and take charge of caring for your grandchild for the time being.

Teach Your Autistic Grandchild to be Independent 

While you may feel the need to provide support in every way you can and do everything for your grandchild, it's best to give them an opportunity to develop themself so as to improve their self-esteem.

Thus, one way to be an awesome parent to an autistic grandchild is to teach them to be independent.

If your child wants to engage in a certain activity or house chores, you provide words of encouragement and affirmations.

Start by praising them for participating in the task, and when they complete it (successfully or not), let them know how proud you are of them.

This pushes them to do better next time and gives them the courage to try new activities.

Also, you can involve your autistic grandchild in household tasks such as emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, watering plants, or making the bed.

Participating in these tasks will help your grandchild feel a sense of responsibility and accomplishment and ultimately increase their self-esteem.

Although it can be tempting to over-nurture and spoil your autistic grandchild, it is more important for them to grow into independent, disciplined, and responsible adults.

Don't Impose Your Traditional Beliefs 

Your parenting strategies and approach with your daughter or son will likely not work with your autistic grandchild.

The world of autism is different; as a grandparent, you will need to adjust accordingly.

Thus, to be an awesome grandparent to your autistic grandchild, don't impose your traditional parenting beliefs.

The traditional style of correcting bad behavior with punishment may not work for your autistic child.

It can, in fact, escalate problem behaviors. Instead, use positive reinforcement and encouragement to de-escalate your autistic grandchild's tantrums or negative behaviors.

Likewise, you might need to let go of the traditional belief of family dining.

Your autistic grandchild may find it challenging to sit in a place for a long period or eat the same meal as everyone else.

You must accept your grandchild's differences rather than viewing them as picky or rebellious.

There is no fixed way to parent a child, especially an autistic one.

You might have to make several adjustments to your traditional parent beliefs based on how autism impacts your child's behaviors and responses.

Support Their Parents 

One way to be an awesome grandparent to your autistic child is to show support to their parents.

Raising an autistic child can be difficult and taxing for your adult child.

Giving the parents your support will go a long way in alleviating their stress and helping them cope with the challenges they might be experiencing.

Sometimes, the best way to be an awesome grandparent is to be a great parent.

Parents of autistic children are at risk of marital conflicts and complete exhaustion due to the strains and stress of raising an autistic child.

Encourage your child and their spouse to spend quality time together as a couple.

You can, in their stead, take over to care for your autistic grandchild for the time being.

Also, it is important to maintain frequent contact with your adult child.

If you're far away, ensure to exchange frequent phone calls to ensure your adult child and their spouse are both okay.

This also gives your adult child the opportunity to share their struggles with you as they arise. 

Conclusion

As a grandparent, you want to support your autistic grandchild and have a meaningful impact on their life.

However, children with autism are unique and may be difficult to relate to in a conventional way.

Nonetheless, your autistic grandchild will need all your love, support, and awesomeness as they grow.

You can be an awesome grandparent to your autistic child by learning about autism spectrum disorder, providing financial support, being flexible with your parenting beliefs, supporting the parents, and teaching your autistic child to be independent. 

Resources 

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July 24th, 2024

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