As grandparents, we want to assist our children and spend time with our grandchildren. We also enjoy the company and change in routine but sitting with our autistic grandchild can take more energy and focus. Are we up to it?
When I first started sitting with my autistic grandchildren, it seemed I was thinking about one thing only. Connecting. I would do my best to make eye contact or try to get them to sit with me. Those are things all grandmother’s love. But they were not going to come easy.
My grandson had his favorite TV shows and he preferred to stand while watching. My granddaughter liked to fidget with toys as she watched. Neither wanted to be near me.
I learned to observe from across the room rather than invade their spaces. This took some practice.
When my daughter dropped them off each time, she would update me concerning their current habits and mood. Things changed slightly each time.
Many grandmothers have asked me about sitting with their autistic grandchildren. My experience has been to keep updated and proceed slowly with the relationship you wish to cultivate.
Try sitting back and allowing your autistic grandchild to find his or her own comfort zone in your house; barring any dangerous areas.
If your grandson or daughter like to climb, make sure to keep them in sight. If he or she enjoys hiding, make sure their favorite spots are safe and you’re close by.
Joining the world of your autistic grandchild
My grandchildren love electronics. I say they enjoy screens. That may be the TV, their video games, a hand-held learning device or a cell phone. Screens allow them to stay enclosed from the world around them.
I decided to join that world. I would sit beside my granddaughter and browse through my smartphone while she played her electronic ABC game. We were side by side and that was important.
My grandson liked to stand–a lot. I would stand beside him and say a few words now and then. Eventually, he took my hand.
When sitting with our autistic grandchildren it’s important to go where they are. If we give it time, they may let us visit their space. And once we’re there, we can ease them more toward ours.