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Wednesday, September 19, 2018


In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families

A family systems approach is required to identify the needs of families of children with autism. This paper explores how grandparents support children with autism and their parents using a family systems perspective. A thematic analysis of eighteen semi-structured interviews was conducted with participants from nine [Irish] families, capturing experiences of both parents’ and grandparents’. Themes identified were family recalibrating; strengthening the family system; and current needs and future concerns of grandparents. The views of families indicated the overwhelming need to acknowledge the grandparental role in supporting families that strengthen the family system by supporting the needs of a child with autism. Findings revealed that grandfathers have a calming role in these families where children have significant behavioural difficulties.
From the article:
Grandparents of children with ASD provide supports, not only to the children themselves, but also to their son or daughter whose child has autism. To reduce the burden families can experience, they would benefit from a family systems approach to empower grandparents to respond proactively to the needs of the family. It is incumbent upon professionals to devise supports to meet this need and to give recognition to grandparents of the valuable role they play. This research is a rallying call to professionals to consider the roles of grandparents more formally in their interactions with families of children with autism, and to identify supports to meet grandparents’ needs that ultimately improve the functioning of the family system