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Grandparents Play Vital Role for Autistic Children
Date:4/30/2010

d in age from 1 to 44 years old.

And, they learned that many grandparents play a vital role for their grandchildren with autism and their families. For example, the survey found that:

  • Thirty percent of grandparents were the first to suggest that their grandchild might have a problem before the child was diagnosed. Another 49 percent supported others who raised concerns about the child.
  • Fourteen percent of grandparents moved closer so that they could help, and 7 percent combined their households to help out.
  • Nearly three-quarters of grandparents play a role in treatment decisions.
  • Almost one-third of grandparents provided direct child care at least once a week.
  • Half of grandparents take part in fund-raising efforts, such as autism walks. One-third are involved in political advocacy.
  • Just under one-quarter of the grandparents surveyed said they had done without something they wanted so they could help their grandchild financially, and 11 percent reported dipping into their retirement funds to help with their grandchild's needs.

"One of the issues in autism is that there are some proven treatments that may not be covered by insurance. If you know that there's a treatment out there that might help your grandchild, it's difficult not to raid your retirement fund to help pay for it," said Law.

Anderson said that one important thing that often gets overlooked is how much these relationships mean to the grandparents. She said there's a stereotypical idea that kids with autism are cold and unfeeling. "But, children with autism aren't cold most of the time, and some grandparents reported loving the child with autism even more than other grandchildren," said Anderson. "The grandparents really wanted the public to understand the disorder better."

"For many years, what I heard from families was, 'My parents don't accept my child with autism,' " said Cat
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