Grandparents of Disabled Children Need Support
By Jane Gill
It is unimaginably hard on families when a disabled child is born. There is some support for the parents and siblings of the disabled child but there is often little or no support for the grandparents. There have been reports that grandparents often go through the same emotional responses (anger, grief, denial) as the parents. However, lack of support and inability to open up and talk about their feelings makes it harder for them to be processed. This paints a rather depressing picture of the situation for grandparents of disabled children. The good news is that there are things that can be done to improve the situation.
Offer to help in small ways. It’s not always the big things that matter. Sometimes small gestures will be much appreciated such as offering to do the weekly shop, babysitting to allow your child to take a break or offering a cooked meal.
Encourage your child to get in touch with other parents of disabled children.
Parents of disabled children are under huge pressure with having to deal with a range of services which makes life exhausting. Ease the pressure by helping with phone calls, offering to attend meetings with your child or offering to babysit while your child goes to meetings.
Researching the particular condition your grandchild has is one way of being actively involved. With this in mind, researching any benefits or other services your child or grandchild is entitled would also be of great benefit to the family.
Encourage your child to get in touch with other parents of disabled children. Find out if there is a local support group for parents of disabled children.
There are plenty of free online courses available related to the care of children with autism and other learning disabilities.
Extra support will be appreciated at particularly stressful times such as initial diagnosis, choosing a primary school, moving to secondary school and transition to adult life.
If you have access to a computer and the Internet, there are plenty of free online courses available related to the care of children with autism and other learning disabilities.
Some areas have grandparent support group specifically set up with the goal of providing a place for them to meet others in the same situation. If you find yourself in this situation and there isn’t a support group, you could set one up.
We have a long way to go until grandparents are getting the support they need to bond with their disabled grandchildren. However, I believe all we need is to take the first step towards that goal and progress will be made.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JANE GILL
Jane Gill is a freelance writer and author of the blog SENS and SENS-ABILITY which aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by disabled people and their families.