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A Grandparent's Guide to Autism

September is National Grandparents Month, a time to acknowledge and appreciate grandparents and all of the love and support they bring to our lives. Grandparents often play very important roles in the lives of children with autism. This month's Community Connections honors all of the grandparents who work so hard to support and encourage their children and grandchildren in any way they can.

A Grandparent's Guide to Autism: Autism Speaks Family Support Tool Kit

In honor of National Grandparents Month, Autism Speaks has created A Grandparent's Guide to Autism. This family support tool kit is designed to help guide and encourage grandparents to establish positive and successful relationships with their grandchildren and the rest of their families.

Click here to read A Grandparent's Guide to Autism.

Click here to read a special letter from Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, grandparents of a child with autism.
*Note: If you have a problem downloading A Grandparent's Guide to Autism, click here to download the new version of Adobe Reader free of charge.

Expert Speaks: Jennifer Krumins, B.A. Hons B. Ed., Mother, Teacher, Author

Autism & the Grandparent Connection: Practical Ways to Understand and Help Your Grandchild with Autism Spectrum Disorder
A book that helps grandparents to provide strength, support and stability to their families when they need it most. This book answers important questions: What is Autism and how does it affect my grandchild? What role should I play? How can I help without interfering?

Jennifer Krumins has also shared an article: Ten Ways to Make A Difference for Your Grandchild with Autism.

Click here to read her article. To learn more about Jennifer and view more of her resources, visit her website

Topic of the Week: The Grandparent Connection in Families Affected by Autism

Each week, the Autism Speaks Family Services team asks families to share their tips and experiences related to a specific subject matter. Like the parents of children with autism, grandparents can have different reactions and responses when they learn their grandchild was diagnosed with autism. This week's Topic of the Week on the Autism Speaks blog asked: What was this like for you? What helped you through this difficult time? What gave you hope for the future for your family and grandchild? See a few highlights below!

I’m Grandpa to a 4-year-old autistic boy who I totally adore. I’m the “go-to” person when his Mom is struggling to handle the work and pressures of William’s conditions. I find that I have his trust in areas where his own parents don’t have the time to develop him. My license plate includes the Autism puzzle symbol and says “4Will”. Together with Williams parents, his preschool teachers and me (Grandpa) we are making great strides. - Glenn

I was a teacher and had already seen the signs. It was no surprise, and I tried to help my daughter and son-in-law, who were both devastated. Everyone is on board now and my grandson is the joy of our lives. God sent him to where he would be loved and cared for. His autism is mild and he is making progress. All the credit goes to GOD.
- Sue

Click here to view all of the responses!

Grandparent Autism Network

The Grandparent Autism Network informs grandparents about autism and the medical, educational, legal and social issues that affect their families, enabling them to share how they may improve the quality of life for their children and grandchildren. Activities include social events for grandparents and grandchildren and advocacy efforts to increase support for autism causes. Networking together, grandparents are a vital resource for autism ...and each other.

Click here to visit the GAN website.

Stories from Grandparents

"I may not know the medical or psychological terms or explanations for Riley's mystery, but I know deep inside that he is an amazing young boy who loves me, and I love him. After all, he is my grandson."

- Craig Brady, the father of Autism Speaks Walk Coordinator Tricia Nelson, on life as a grandfather to her son Riley. Click here to read other testimonials from grandparents of children with autism.

Resources of the Month

Letters to Sam: A Grandfather's Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life
by Daniel Gottlieb
A collection of letters from radio host, newspaper columnist, and psychologist Dr. Dan Gottlieb to his grandson Sam, who has autism. Gottlieb is a quadriplegic, and through these letters, he shares wise words of wisdom and important life lessons with his grandson.

Grandparenting A Child with Special Needs
by Charlotte E. Thompson, MD
This book provides guidance on how to give grandchildren with special needs the love and care they deserve and provide their parents with the additional support that they often need. Topics covered include the medical, emotional, and practical aspects of the grandparenting role as well as how to access resources -- and how to have fun and quality time with a grandchild with a disability.

GKSN: Grandparents of Kids with Special Needs 
If you have a grandchild with special needs, no one will understand your joys and concerns better than another grandparent. On our simple website, you’ll have a chance to meet other grandparents through our Yahoogroup or Facebook groups, share ideas for supporting your kids and grandkids, and even post pictures of you and your grandkids!

Grandparent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders: Making the Most of the Time at Nana's House
by Nancy Mucklow

Nancy Mucklow's book serves as a practical guide to turning grandparents' concern, confusion and initial sadness for their grandchild with ASD into a relationship of acceptance, confidence and realistic expectations. Full of intriguing and thought-provoking anecdotes and rules of thumb, Grandparent's Guide to ASD includes tried-and-true recommendations on how to deal with sensory issues, new and unfamiliar environments, dietary considerations, emotional meltdowns, communication, selecting the right toys, participating in school and family events... and much more.

Click here to send an Autism Speaks Grandparents Day eCard.

Click here to learn about our Illinois Chapter's Fearless Grandparents Against Autism support group!