Having a grandchild on the autism spectrum
Many grandparents had experience of people gawping at them when they were out with their grandchildren. People would stare, tut or sometimes pass comment. One grandparent lived in a county where there were a lot of people with learning difficulties, so people were used to different behaviour and this made going out easier. Others too recounted some positive experiences in public and had hadn’t felt bothered by other people. One person explained how her daughter’s local supermarket was always particularly helpful when she was out shopping with her children.
Bryan says that people physically make more space around them when they are out.
Helens daughter feels alone and in despair when she is out in public and people look at her...
When Irenes grandson has a meltdown in the supermarket, people think he is a badly behaved child.
And sometimes I have sort of almost more anxiety about my elder grandson than the younger one because I think the level of disability is so much more evident in my younger grandson and it’s what people see isn’t it? We all know that people find it quite difficult to come to terms with neurological disabilities and behaviours that may be displayed by children along the spectrum, because it’s the unseen disability. It’s much easier if someone, sadly, it’s not, it’s not a comparison in any way, but if people can see someone’s in a wheelchair of they’ve got you know, a helmet on their head, or they need support to walk or whatever, it’s much easier for people to understand disability than if it’s a child whose having a meltdown in the supermarket, because they’re just completely overwhelmed by all the sensory things that they’ve got to deal with in there or because they can’t make themselves understood. They can’t find what’s worrying them about the way something looks on a shelf and the pattern of its upsetting them and disturbing them and they can’t explain that and they’re having a meltdown. So many people just think that they’re badly behaved kids.
Brian and Lucy think people comment or stare at their grandson in public because they have no...
Jills grandson becomes overloaded with stimuli when he is out.
But he when he’s out it seems to be that his brain really does get overload with what most people would find an average, ordinary stimulus and plus he can’t take instructions, which I found from my reading is fairly typical of one type of autism. It’s not that he’s stupid, I would say that wouldn’t I, but he does not seem to hear, or take in or retain what you’ve said if it’s an instruction. Now that sounds really weird. It sounds like a grandparent’s excuse.
Sallys grandson became obsessed that a cliff was going to fall on them when they went for a walk...
A couple of weeks ago, we went down to the coast near Brighton and we were walking on the undercliff along by Saltdean and he just suddenly got obsessed that the cliff was going to fall on him and he just did, wouldn’t walk along this, this place because the cliffs were going to fall down, and I tried to say to him, “Well look, they’ve been there for about ten thousand years, they will not fall down today.” Then you see little bits of chalk on the ground and you think ooh maybe he’s right [laughs]. And it, it took a long time to, to calm him on that. A long time just to sit. We eventually sat down and talked about it and then he got distracted and you know, then he started worrying about something else. Started worrying about other people’s dogs after that.
Moiras grandson invited all the hotel guests to his uncles wedding when he was a page boy.
Jill describes some of the things her grandson does when he goes out in public.
On buses and trains there’s this kind of thing also this kind of, fierce... pushing out or punching out and he won’t sit and look out of the window. His sight is good. He can see far, but he has double vision. He has occasional bouts of double vision. But... he doesn’t find it interesting to look at what’s passing outside the window. Instead, he’ll stick his leg or his arm out into the aisle, because he finds it, I think he thinks it’s an interaction with other people, when they trip or stumble against him. And if they’re angry with him, it doesn’t seem to register with him. It doesn’t matter to him. And again he’ll stand up in his seat and he’ll lean his elbows and his arms on the head of the person in front of him. And again I think he just like the contact. And as often as I’m sorry I’m shaking, because I don’t often get a chance to talk about him.
Jill has arranged with her grandson to meet her in a particular place if they get separated from...
Moira and Bryan have spent a lot of time travelling on the underground with their grandson,...
One of the ways in which grandparents managed going out was to research and plan trips thoroughly. While this could be an effective strategy, a few grandparents reflected on the way in which they, or their children, could not go out spontaneously like many families. In addition to preparing their grandchildren for an outing by explaining exactly what they were going to be doing, choosing the outing in the first place could be hard, particularly if they were taking more than one grandchild. One person said that she didn’t go to “posh places” with her grandsons, but found that garden centres were “full up with people with wheelchairs and learning disabilities”.
Irene feels sad that her family miss the experience of spontaneous outings. She finds taking her...
Jan has been very touched by some of the responses she has got from particular places.
Jan often goes out with her daughter in the holidays to help with her grandchildren.
Last reviewed August 2018.
Last updated May 2015.