How do you give a child struggling with autism more stability? Call in the grandparents.

Who better than family to make sure you and your child with autism are getting every service available?

In 2009, the CDC estimated that 1 in 110 children in the U.S. had autism spectrum disorders.

That was an increase from 1 in 150 just two years prior, and the number keeps increasing. But for families of children with autism, the reality is much more nuanced than those numbers can portray.

Parents of kids with autism tend to struggle with things that many of us cannot understand. They have less time to socialize and little time to do research on services available to their kids. Those services can be quite expensive, too. And sadly, some parents may even find themselves shunned by family and friends who don't quite understand autism. But of course, these parents are also blessed with unique and vibrant children — as with most of parenting, the experience is a mixed bag.


Image via iStock.

But now there's an exciting approach for families of kids with autism. Enter: grandparents.

Sociologist Eva Kahana, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, conducted a literature review of dozens of studies about parenting, special needs kids, and familial relationships. She suggests grandparents are ideal hangout buddies for children, especially those diagnosed with autism.

She found that grandparents can help parents raise autistic children who are better adapted because grandparents often build a bridge to understanding autism for everyone in the family. And because grandma and grandpa are often able to act as neutral "spokespeople" between the family of a child with autism and their extended family or the outside world. Grandparents often end up serving as surrogates, educating people and dispelling any misguided perceptions about autism, including fear and discomfort.

Most grandparents have already raised children, so they may be more aware than parents if their grandchild is showing signs of developing autism.

Most grandparents are extremely emotionally invested in their grandchildren, often second only to parents, so they are more likely to notice and push for an early diagnosis and treatment plan, too.

Image via iStock.

Also, grandparents typically have more time for caretaking and special attention.

That means they are able to do research on after-school programs and other services offered to children with autism that parents may not know about.

“Parents often accept limited services offered to the child at their local public schools, unaware of additional services that schools are required by law to provide to a child with a disability,” Kahana says.

Then there's the issue of money — there's something called a "special needs trust" that grandparents can open for a grandchild who has autism. The trust ensures that the child's future public benefits are never put at risk.

And who better to watch your kids?

Kahana found that children who struggle with autism are less likely to become agitated when grandma or grandpa babysit, as opposed to a babysitter they don't know at all. (Not to mention the added benefit of not having to pay them for their services — that frees up a lot of money parents can spend to improve the quality of life of their children!)

Image via iStock.

The best part is that these are just findings from one article dealing specifically with autism.

Other studies have shown lots of added benefits for children who spend time with their grandparents.

Grandmas and grandpas rule. They're there to spoil you, to say "yes" when your parents say "no," and to send you a lot of unconditional love. But while the bonds between kids and their grandparents are beautiful, they're also functional: They could drastically improve life for kids with autism and other special needs all over the world.

Family

If you wonder why the LGBTQ community holds Pride parades, look no further than Grayson Fritts.

If you don't know who Grayson Fritts is, here's a brief intro:

He's a pastor. He's a police officer. And he is on video screaming from the pulpit that the government should kill gay people.

That's not an exaggeration.

In a video of a fist-pounding sermon at All Scripture Baptist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, Fritts said that police should round up people at Pride parades, put them through a quick trial, and then put them to death.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture


Jon Stewart Won't Let Mitch McConnell Off That Easy www.youtube.com


Jon Stewart's work on behalf of the 9/11 Victims Fund has truly elevated him to hero status. His tireless efforts to raise awareness and restore funds to survivors and the families of victims have earned him much-deserved praise and literally helped push funding through a House committee last week.

But it shouldn't have to be like this.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

Prince Harry isn't just a member of England's royal family - he's also a new dad. He and Duchess Meghan of Sussex welcomed Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor into the world last month. He joins William and Kate's three offspring (George, Charlotte, and Lewis) as royal grandchildren. I assume he's being accordingly spoiled with elaborate titles, jewels, and small islands.


Keep Reading Show less
Family

A celebrated teacher's 5-point explanation of why she's quitting has gone viral.

"The school system is broken. It may be broken beyond repair."

Talented, dedicated teachers are leaving public schools because the system makes it too hard to truly educate kids.

When I studied to become a teacher in college, I learned what education can and should be. I learned about educational psychology and delved into research about how to reach different learners, and couldn't wait to put that knowledge into practice in the classroom.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared