Grandparents Day is celebrated across the U.S. annually in September. Indeed, grandparents can shed a positive light in families by adding to life’s joy, providing a source of support and strengthening resilience. But often, extended family are unsure how to connect or build a positive relationship with an autistic child. Here at Touchstone ABA, we recommend a few different strategies that can help anyone improve their relationship with a child on the spectrum.
Be willing to learn. Autism looks different for every child and family. Learn more about what it means for your
loved one by asking their parents and caregivers:
• What are the child’s favorite activities and toys or snacks?
• How does the child communicate; what do certain behaviors mean?
• What are things that bother the child? Maybe it’s loud laughter or being too close to him/her.
• What’s the best time to visit? Be understanding for last minute change of plans.
• What do you need? Extended family and friends can be a huge source of support for parents and
caregivers; be specific when you can, “When can I babysit?”
Be patient and understanding. A child may lack the communication and social skills for extended play or conversations, but simply sharing a favorite snack or activity together can be a great place to start. Over time, small successes can help build a positive, meaningful relationship.
Manage your expectations. Ask questions and learn about a child’s strengths, interests and difficulties. Understand that a child with autism may show their affection for you in unexpected ways.
Get involved in the child’s ABA or other treatments. Talk with parents and caregivers about participating and learning more about ABA and other services the child may be receiving.
Resist judgement and giving parenting advice. Raising children with autism often requires very different parenting skills than raising typically developing children. Be willing to learn new ways to enjoy your grandchild.
Here are a few resources for grandparents: A Grandparents Guide to Autism, Positive Relationships in Families with Autistic Children, Keeping Kids Connected via Zoom and Facetime
The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for guidance
from a behavior analyst or other healthcare provider