September 13 was special for grandparents around the country as the nation celebrated National Grandparent Day.
Grandparents are among the most well-loved and popular of all relatives, and being the grandparent to a child with autism should be no less rewarding. Here are some tips on how to enhance your relationship with your grandchild.
- Get informed – Being a grandparent to a child with autism can be a little more challenging than the conventional roles you may be familiar with. The urge to do something, to help your child and their child is overwhelming. But without the right information, you run the risk of doing more harm than good. Be sure to speak to your children about their child’s disorder and how it affects their day-to-day routine. Ask them what resources you should look at rather than winging it and ask them how you can be part of your grandchild’s therapy program.
- Join a family support group – There are support groups for families of people with autism. Check if there is one in your neighborhood. If you are internet savvy grandparent, there are a host of forums and resources online. Have your children direct you to one that they would recommend. Learning from others in the same situation will equip you to better deal with your own grandchild.
- Keep it simple – Too many words can be overwhelming for a child with autism. Many people with autism also learn to block off noise and superfluous sounds. If you speak too long, or in complicated long-winded sentences, they may shut you out. Get to the point fast. Communicate in short clear and simple sentences.
- Gain their attention – Always begin any communication with them by first gaining their attention. Getting on your knees at their level, calling their name, or tapping their arm can accomplish this. Once you gain their attention proceed with what you want to say. This will help them attend to what you are saying.
- Use visual cues – Use images, point at objects, keep visual aids handy to help you communicate better with children with autism. Most people with autism are visual learners and will respond better to communication that relies on the visual medium.
- Find a shared interest – Find out what your grandchild loves doing and then make an effort to learn it. You can use this interest as a window to connecting with them. Don’t push too hard if they do not respond, and do no be disheartened if they move on to a new interest by the time you master one. It may take time, but the grandparent to grandchild bond that develops will be so worth it.
- Keep up their routine – If you are tasked with being the primary caregiver for your grandchild, you will need to get trained or educated on special methods. However, if you are only occasionally responsible for your grandchild, one key thing to remember is to stick with their familiar routine even when they are at your place. Always check on what the child’s routine is and stick to it to minimize disruption and make it easier on the child to adapt to the new surroundings.
- Set up a nook for them – Stash some of their favorite toys and things that they can come back to each time they visit. This will make your home seem more reinforcing and familiar to them. Put up a nice poster or image that they will remember and associate with the nook and the comfort of that little cubby hole in your home.
At the end of the day, all the effort in the world will seem like nothing when you get a smile or hug from your grandchild some day. And even if you don’t, know that deep down they love you too.
#Grandparent #NationalGrandparentDay #AutismAwarness #bhwcares