There is a special bond between a grandparent and a grandchild. What grandparent hasn’t spoiled a grandchild in a way they would have never done with their own children? Though children with autism may present a challenge to grand parenting, we think it offers such a unique opportunity and a grandparent can be just the perfect person to provide it. And, with our strategies listed below, siblings can feel just as special and involved.
Siblings can help with outings, be involved in planning and have a great time with the fun solutions we’ve suggested. We’ve picked out our top tips and tricks and offer some great tools that everyone in the family can enjoy! Let’s take a look at some solutions to make your time with your grandchildren not only special but also absolutely memorable!
- Plan ahead. If you’re planning to visit your grandchildren, plan ahead and then lower your expectations of a strict schedule that meets your needs. Be flexible! Transitions can bring a meltdown or even a halt to your plans. With that said, planning ahead for activities that you can enjoy together can make a world of difference and helps smooth those transitions. If you’re taking your grandkids out, call ahead to places you’d like to visit to see if they can accommodate any specific needs your grandchildren may have. You can also ask about times that are less crowded and any special programs.
- Want to bring a gift? Try a Break Box that can really make a difference. You can select the items you like but for a Grandparents’ Break Box, we recommend great tools for calming, regulating and organizing sensory information such as: the Mega Weighted Lap Pad for calming, a Transformer Sensory Sack to encourage movement and body organization, Hand-Eye Coordination Scarves for concentration and focus, Discovery Putty for heavy hand work, a Pressure Foam Roller to relax and organize, Noise Reduction Ear Muffs for sensory sensitive listeners and a set of Fidget Key Chain Balls to keep fingers engaged. Your grandkids will love you for just thinking of them! And best of all siblings can join in the fun!
- A weighted blanket, weighted lap pad or weighted vest might just be what everyone needs and can help ease transitions and minimize meltdowns. Keeping one handy can be a real lifesaver.
- Hit the great outdoors. Indoor play areas are all the rage, but they can be very over stimulating for a child with special needs. Outdoor activities such as a hike or visit to a park or pool can make all the difference. If you want to stay close by, just going for a walk or blowing bubbles can provide some great moments.
- Hands On: We like to call it heavy handwork, but for your grandkids with autism, it can be real therapy. Try baking together, building together, or doing an art activity. Putty, sand or dough make a great medium for really working with hands.
- Use Water. Water is one of the most calming activities for all kids, but particularly for kids with autism. Pool time is fantastic but you can also use a rainy day outside to get wet or wash dishes together.
- Airport. Need a great outing idea? How about a visit to a local airport or train station? Many smaller airports have designated spots for watching the planes take off and land. Pack a lunch and have a day of it.
- Last but not least stay informed. You may be experiencing a long list of emotions in regard to your grandchild. You may want to check out Autism Speaks or other sites specializing in education and products for autism.
Remember it takes a village to raise a child and we think it takes an entire extended family to raise a child with autism. This guide is a place to start. You also may enjoy our Facebook community to support your grand-parenting journey and our Free Resources.