When I stop to count my blessings I never forget to say thank you seven times for the grand parents.
Being a special needs grandparent is it’s own arena. They’ve learned how to meet Jackson where he is, fall in love with trains, find their way into his world. And we’ve been lucky enough to be blessed beyond measure with seven, my lucky number oddly enough.
Pap, Gog, Yaya, Pappy, Grammy Jammies, Gramma Dolly, and AP (she’s an honorary)
Most families we know wish they just had one or two family members who understood life with autism, offered to help, were available for a few hours of respite and we are doubtlessly blessed with a reach beyond our seven, but that’s another post for another day.
You see we got here by being honest, and open, and welcoming the opportunity for conversations. Autism wasn’t a part of our lives until it was. We didn’t talk about diets, or ieps, therapies, and sensory rooms, and the importance of routines until we wanted everyone to be involved in supporting Jackson.
Hiding autism wasn’t helping anyone, talking about what he needed and the expectations wasn’t letting our family see the day to day supports he needed to be successful.
They know we are packing a lunchbox because he has his favorite foods unless they’re making Kraft Mac and cheese or making chicken fries, and guess what? No one is mad about it.
They knew he wasn’t interested in opening gifts and nobodies feelings were hurt. They knew last year all he wanted was to open presents and since we’d waited six years for it presents were first at Christmas and birthdays. They know train hunting and a car wash is the way to his heart.
They know the difference between a meltdown and a tantrum, and they know that somethings we have to work through even if it looks hard on the outside. They know he’s busy and doesn’t sit for long, which means neither can we.
They know all of these things because we told them, we didn’t hide things and hope for the best. No one got angry, no one said “well back in my day”, they got on board. Some didn’t, and we moved on and that may be because I am a get on board or get off the train kind of girl.
But these seven grand parents, and great grandparents are walking this journey with us, they’re wiping my tears, they’re hunting the trains and we are thankful for them each and every day.
I hope each and every special needs mama can find the family members, or honorary members who they can be honest with and find what we have. It makes this journey a whole lot less lonely.
And if you’re a family member to a special needs mama, check on her, ask some questions, remind her she has support. Always.