Having a grandchild on the autism spectrum

Interview 07

Age at interview: 63

Brief outline: Interview 7 has one grandson who had been diagnosed with autism.

Background: Interview 7 is married and has two children.

Audio & video

Interview 7 has five grandchildren. She feels very close to them all. One of her grandchildren has autism. He and his family live about a four-hour train journey away, so she sees them approximately every two months. Interview 7 was surprised when she found out about her grandson’s diagnosis and wondered if they were mistaken. She describes how she “went through a phase of grieving” and then later she began to accept it. She describes her grandson as “a very gentle soul” who gives the family “a lot of joy”. According to Interview 7, her grandson has not often spoken, so the occasions on which he has have been very moving. 
Interview 7 describes how she used to invent games to play with her grandson. He finds repetitive activities very funny. Interview 7 says she sometimes feels sad because she has less contact with him now because it is difficult to find common interests now that he is no longer a toddler. 
Interview 7 said she is full of admiration for her daughter who’s continuously finding ways to improve her son’s communication skills. She is very close to her daughter and gives her as much support as she can, and describes then as “good friends”. She searched on the internet for information following her grandson’s diagnosis and found books written by autistic people themselves very helpful. This was because they discussed their own experiences and helped her to understand her grandson better.
She believes that her role as a grandmother is to give her grandchildren “good childhood memories”. She summarises her experience by saying that her grandson is a “wonderful gift” and that she is “incredibly happy” when he makes progress.


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