September 7th was Grandparents Day, an annual day when we celebrate the special relationship between grandparents, their adult children, and their grandchildren. At the Joshua School, we are grateful for the role that grandparents play year-round in the life of a child with autism. We celebrate grandparents throughout the month of September.
In 2009, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) conducted a survey of 2,600 grandparents of children with autism to learn how having a grandchild with autism changed their lives and how they supported the emotional and economic needs of their adult children and grandchildren. Highlights of what was learned from grandparents in this survey include:
About 30% of grandparents were the first to notice that there was a problem with their grandchild’s development.
Nearly 90% felt that the experience of facing their grandchild’s situation together had brought them and their adult child closer.
72% of grandparents said they play some role in making treatment decisions for their grandchild.
More than 7% said they had actually combined households with their grandchild’s family so they could help them manage all that’s involved in raising a child with autism, while 14% had moved closer (but not into the same home) for the same reason.
Over 34% said they take care of their grand- child at least once a week and about one in five grandparents indicated that they provide regular transportation for the child.
About 6% of grandparents said that a family situation had become so untenable they had taken on the role of parent.
A quarter of grandparents reported spending up to $99 a month on their grandchild’s autism- related needs, with some contributing more than $500 or $1,000 monthly.
So on behalf of all of our families at the Joshua School and all families of children with autism, grandparents and step-grandparents we salute you:
Thank you for being the rock that keeps us grounded.
Thank you for the times we found unexpected cooked meals, a clean house and the laundry done; we are grateful.
Thank you for being there to pick them up at school because we couldn’t leave work. Thank you for the moral support you've provided, allowing us to feel as though we are not alone.
Thank you for keeping them overnight so we could sleep in; the respite was much needed.
Thank you for your encouraging words and your endless supply of unconditional love to all of us.
Thank you for the countless times you held us while we wept out of frustration and helplessness that we felt at the lack of support for our children.
Thank you for educating others about autism because we know it affects you too.
Thank you for always staying strong and never showing your fear or concern in front of us. We couldn’t have done this without you.
Your strength and unwavering support is what gets us through this. You play a significant role in the lives of your grandchildren, and please never forget how precious you are to them and to us.
In honor of our grandparents, TJS is hosting a Grandparents' Breakfast (all parents are welcome too!).