Having a grandchild on the autism spectrum

Dorothy: Interview 06

Age at interview: 82

Brief outline: Dorothy's grandchildren, Lydia, aged fourteen, and Edward, eleven, were both diagnosed with ASD when they were each about three years old.

Background: Dorothy is a retired teacher. She lives quite close to her daughter and two grandchildren. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Dorothy sees her grandchildren a couple of times a week and describes their relationship as “very close”. When Lydia was diagnosed, Dorothy reported it was like a “bolt out of the blue” and that she “just wanted to cry all the time”. During this time she found writing poetry therapeutic. When Edward was diagnosed with autism this came as less of a surprise because they had experience of autism. 
Dorothy and her family decided that they wanted to use Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) to help the grandchildren. Her daughter felt it was the best intervention after researching on the internet. They as a family were trained in ABA. They also paid to have some tutors, including girls from the local college, trained in its use, who, in turn, became the children’s therapists. Dorothy said they saw the results on the very first day when Lydia said “Mummy” for the first time. She describes their reaction to this as “total euphoria”.
Dorothy sees her role as being “a complete support” for her daughter. She has a supportive network of friends with whom she could discuss her problems and joys. However, she feels it would have been nice to talk to somebody in the same situation to learn from their experiences which could provide them with the encouragement that her family can do the same
Dorothy described her experience as “like a roller coaster” because there have been “terrible downs” and “quite a lot of highs”. She thinks the best things about her grandchildren is their sense of humour and that “they’re both very, very loving”.


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