Having a grandchild on the autism spectrum

Bryan and Moira: Interview 08 & 09

Age at interview: 72

Brief outline: Bryan and Moira's oldest grandson was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. He is now twenty-one.

Background: Bryan and Moira are both retired. He is a former naval officer whilst Moira used to work part-time as a shop assistant. They have two children and three grandchildren. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

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Bryan and Moira’s grandson was diagnosed with autism when he was three. Moira describes how she felt guilty when she learned of his diagnosis because, despite the reassurances of her daughter, she felt that somehow or other it was genetically her fault. Bryan’s first response was denial and it took him a long time to accept it.
According to Bryan, their grandson is “the apple of his grandmother’s eye” and “a real pleasure to be with”. He enjoys staying with them at their home in London and particularly enjoys travelling around on the Tube. They describe him as very literal and he could be aggressive when he was younger because, they felt, he became frustrated.
According to Moira, their experience with their grandson has led them to be more understanding of other peoples’ problems and that it may have caused them to stay closer as a family. 
Both Bryan and Moira agree that, at the time of their grandson’s diagnosis, they would have valued some information based on the experiences of “other people who have been there and done that” because they could provide more help than “a list of facts in a paper or a book”. They were offered no support to help them come to terms with the diagnosis, but felt lucky that they are a close family who all support each other.


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