I recommend that autism grandparents visit and explore the website, www.knowdifferent.net.
KnowDifferent.net is a site for all special need families that have to do anything ‘KNOWdifferently.’ No matter what the diagnosis, our site will offer you a place to learn, a place to share and a place to feel KnowDifferent.
Virginian Carissa Garabedian, mother of a 17-year-old son with autism, originated and maintains this wonderful website that not only provides ongoing insights regarding her family’s challenges (such as the COVID-resulting virtual learning for her son), but also presents helpful articles and opportunities from other sources, such as virtual conferences on autism, all of which can help us autism grandparents be more knowledgeable and ever better equipped to provide support and understanding for our grandchildren and their families.
This website also has a link to MacaroniKid of Richmond – a local-info-added national website that provides activity guides and helpful information for families with children. For us grandparents who will have involvements with our grandchildren during Halloween season, there is a great article by Jennifer Hill, “10 Ideas for Halloween Fun in COVID Times!” One of the ideas is something I’ll do with my 4-year-old granddaughter: a Halloween candy hunt (like with Easter eggs). Another idea that we grandparents can initiate is a virtual (such as with ZOOM) Halloween costume contest or party.
One of the website’s current featured articles is entitled, “15 Simple Life Hacks We All Should Know,” and it provides a great tip that I will use for my granddaughter’s love of cheese toast: “Turn your toaster on its side and melt a piece of cheese on your toast!” We autism grandparents who do some of the caretaking for our grandchildren need all the “life hacks” we can get.
Perhaps the best thing about KnowDifferent is Carissa Garabedian’s ongoing series of “Dear KNOWDifferent Families” letters. Ms. Garabedian candidly shares her personal joys and challenges associated with caring for her special needs son – joys and challenges that we grandparents experience too. It helps us to read the words of someone else who is experiencing some of what our own family is experiencing. Here is one passage from the October 2020 letter: “We are in week 4 of virtual school at our home and it has been HARD! It is mentally exhausting to be on the computer and to be so disconnected. I am talking about what it is like for me. I can only imagine how difficult it is for my son. I can see his struggles, I can feel his anxiety and I cannot do anything about it except continue to support him. I know the teachers are also struggling, it is not easy for anyone. Many have asked me what my days are like and I thought I would share a little with you all, it may confirm that for those of us doing this - we are not alone.” This is followed by a chronicle of her daily schedule: beginning with waking up at 6am and ending with going to bed by 9pm, “to get ready to do it all over.”
This website is helpful to me and my wife as we participate a lot in the caretaking for our granddaughter, and I suspect that many other autism grandparents can also benefit from it.