Having a grandchild on the autism spectrum

Sally: Interview 15

Female
Age at interview: 57

Brief outline: Sally's grandson, aged 7, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old.

Background: Sally is married and has two daughters and four grandchildren. She works as a Church Pastor. Ethnicity/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Sally described herself as “a doting grandmother”. She says she has a special relationship with her autistic grandson compared with her other grandchildren because he is the oldest. She felt “absolutely devastated” when she discovered that he had autism saying that she “wanted to cry” but chose to be strong for her daughter instead. Her initial worry was whether he would ever get married.
 
According to Sally, her role is to be there for her grandchildren as someone they can rely on. She believes that she and her family have become more tolerant and aware of differences because of their experience of autism. Even though she and her husband live over 50 miles away they often babysit for her grandchildren.
 
Sally sought information about autism from books and from a former school principal who works at her church. In her role as church pastor, Sally often has to support others. She does not want to join a support group for grandparents as she believes that she would end up supporting rather than being supported.
 
Sally is his maternal grandmother. We also spoke to Rebeccah his paternal grandmother (see Rebeccah’s story).

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