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“Curing” PGD

Are you like me? Do you have PGD? (I have an intense case of it.)

Dr. Temple Grandin continually says how valuable it was for her that her parents “pushed” her to do things for herself – difficult things. Dr. Grandin recommends that this is generally good for persons on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Grandin has never been a grandparent.

I have PGD: Permissive Grandparent Disorder. It’s a term that I coined to describe something that I suspect is common among grandparents. We have a tendency to “spoil” our grandchildren, grant every wish, make things easy for them, and of course to never make them do anything they don’t want to do.


Angelina is now 4 years old, and I realize that my PGD does not contribute to her progress. For example, I’ll put her clothes on for her even though my daughter tells me that Angelina dresses herself at home. For example, I’ll lift Angelina and put her into her car seat even though my daughter tells me that Angelina can climb in by herself. For example, when I’m keeping Angelina I’ll be attentive to her every second even though my daughter tells me that Angelina can spend a lot of time (30 minutes or more) playing by herself. There is a long list of similar “even though's.”

I have now sought advice from a variety of sources, and the following is my new list of things I’m trying to put into practice.

  1. I recognize that I have PGD and I commit to “curing” it.

  2. I will “push” Angelina on things that are in her short- and long-term best interest.

  3. I realize that successfully doing something difficult will give Angelina a feeling of accomplishment and confidence.

  4. I will sometimes offer Angelina a time limit for trying something difficult: “Let’s pick up toys for one minute and then you can stop.”

  5. I will sometimes use a play-based approach when encouraging Angelina to do something difficult: “Let’s sing the happy song about the toys going to their homes.”

  6. I will recognize that even though it’s easier and quicker for me to pick up Angelina’s toys for her, brush her teeth for her, put her clothes on for her, etc. etc., I’ll work hard to remember that it’s better to get Angelina to try to do those things by herself.

  7. I will understand that Angelina is best motivated to do something difficult when she has lots of energy and has no stress or tension. And that the opposite is also true.

  8. I will make difficult goals small enough that they are attainable.

  9. I will reduce long-term goals into a series of small, short-term goals: “Our goal now is to learn to draw the first letter of the alphabet.”

  10. I will sometimes use things that Angelina enjoys as rewards for doing/trying difficult things.

  11. I will always, always, always shower Angelina with smiling praise when she accomplishes something difficult.

  12. I will always remember that autism is different for everyone and that the most important thing is for me to “know” Angelina. And also that what works for Angelina works for Angelina.

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