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How to be an Autism Grandparent

Susan Moeller’s 3/1/21 article published on AARP’s website, “How to Grandparent a Child With Special Needs,” provides wonderful basic guidelines for us autism grandparents. The article’s subtitle is, “Educate yourself, provide support, know your limits and find joy.” And its first sentence begins, “When Jim Oricchio’s grandson was diagnosed with autism at age 3 . . .”


Here’s the link to the article: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2021/special-needs-grandchildren.html



It’s a brief but poignant article and it’s worthwhile for any of us, whether we’re new grandparents or have been at it for a while. The article concludes with six suggestions.


  1. Learn about your grandchild’s diagnosis.

  2. Use education as a defense against public comments about your grandchild’s bad behavior. That is, rather than getting angry, tell the person about your grandchild’s challenges.

  3. Know your grandchild’s rights and advocate for them. Every state has various regulations and we can be advocates, for example, for our grandchild having an aide in school.

  4. Understand your limits. It’s wonderful for us to provide time and energy and money, but we need to be careful not to significantly jeopardize our own future.

  5. Find support for yourself. The article says the best support is connecting with other grandparents who have grandchildren with similar challenges.

  6. Discover joy. All of us autism grandparents know the wonderful joy in seeing progress, in receiving a smile or a hug, in our grandchild making a friend, etc. etc. etc.

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