I purchased an iPad for my severely autistic non-speaking grandson over two years ago, along with the augmented speaking program that’s helped many severely autistic children communicate.
Although I went with my daughter-in-law to his community program and they designed a program around the iPad to help him use it, they suddenly shut down.
My grandson was shifted to a new half-day program, with afternoons in kindergarten.
As an interested grandmother, I called the program and school to find out how he was doing and learned that neither knew he had an iPad.
They also didn’t know that he was very good at looking up his favourite music videos on it, and that he spoke a few words.
I’d earlier asked if I could update the program to insert my grandson's pictures which would show and “speak” the names of his family, his things, favourite food, school, etc.
But once his parents learned that I’d contacted the school and his program, they stopped speaking to me.
I realize now that I should’ve let them know I wanted to contact his program and school.
I’m working on how to apologize.
I empathize with my son and daughter-in-law and the terrible experience they have been through, and will continue with for years ahead.
But I think they’re holding my grandson back by keeping him out of community programs that could’ve benefitted him.
They’re kind to him and have created a lovely home for him. But they seem to withhold protein and withhold water for up to two hours before a meal, believing this’ll enable him to eat.
I even shared my concerns by phone with local child welfare authorities but they didn’t seem concerned as long as he was involved in programs "in the community" and attending school.
I've considered seeking a court access order so that I could see my grandson. He’s a sweet boy who seems to enjoy my company, but I know that’ll likely sever ties permanently.
His welfare must come first, and I feel I must act now. But is there any way to rekindle or save the relationship with my son and his wife?
Wanting A Relationship
You went too far. I believe you should apologize to them now, not later.
Your description of your son and daughter-in-law shows they’re not negligent parents.
They’re trying to do what they think is helpful to him, even if they may’ve decided on some theories with which you disagree and could benefit from others.
But you – acting on your own – compromised your earlier chance to have them listen to you.
It’s a shame, because you do care so much yourself, and have been researching and learning important ways to work with severely autistic children.
I appreciate that you want the best for this child. But it can’t become a control issue which is what they must be feeling.
Do everything possible to turn this around so you can communicate with them again:
Not only with an apology, but also showing respect for their primary role as parents.
Mention the good connection you believe you had with your grandson and how much every such relationship can be helpful to him.
Promise that you won’t interfere arbitrarily again, and will listen to the information that they’re working from, plus share some of the things that you’ve learned,
This boy needs a team helping him progress, including the best advice that’s available from proven experts in the field and his own doctors and teachers.
FEEDBACK Regarding adult children’s reaction to their parents’ divorce (July 26):
Reader – “When I divorced years ago, my ex- husband tried to poison my kids against me.
“I fought hard for my relationship with my kids and finally succeeded (it’s great now), partly by avoiding the topic of their dad.
“To the man whose children avoided the funeral but took the money: Send the kids a letter through a lawyer, inviting them to family counselling in hopes of a relationship or a chance to hear why they feel the way they do.
“Be clear that until they’re willing to try that, they’ll be removed from any financial benefits from you, alive or dead.
“It sounds harsh, but apparently their scruples are for sale.
“They may consider the offer of a safe, mediated place to air their grievances and for him to respond and be heard.
“If so, honour the financial deal regardless of the relationship going forward.”
Tip of the day:
Grandparents can best help their grandchildren thrive, if they consult with and respect the parents.