Having a grandchild on the autism spectrum

Jan: Interview 11

Female
Age at interview: 59

Brief outline: Jan's older grandson has a diagnosis of ASD.

Background: Jan, a social care trainer and consultant, has two children and two grandsons aged 10 and 5. She lives with her husband. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

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Jan’s daughter has two sons, aged 10 and 5 and the older son was diagnosed with ASD when he was about four years old. Jan is very close to her grandchildren and sees them often. Her daughter and son-in-law lived with her and her ex- husband for two years after their first son was born and Jan describes having a “particularly close bond with him”. Jan works in the field of disability as a trainer and consultant, but recalls how the family didn’t realise for a while that he may be on the spectrum because he was the first grandson and he related so well to the adults he lived with. 
 
Once he turned three it became more apparent that he had difficulties mixing with other children and there were other signs, such as lining up cars on the floor and being “mad about Thomas the Tank Engine”. Once referred, he was quickly diagnosed with childhood autism and, on Jan’s request, had a second referral to a London hospital where the diagnosis was confirmed with more emphasis on severe.
 
Jan describes finding the diagnosis difficult at first, because she had grown up with a brother with Down syndrome and was aware of how this had affected her parents and her own childhood. In the period after the diagnosis, Jan found she had a dual role as a grandparent but also as kind of key worker or advocate organising things like speech and language assessments, applying for benefits and so on. 
 
Now her grandson is doing very well in mainstream school and apart from concerns about his transition to secondary school, Jan is very happy with this education. She is also very proud of the way her two grandchildren get on and the way in which her daughter and son-in-law have raised them.
 

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