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A Grandmother’s Love: The Joys of Caring For 3 Grandkids with Autism

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
02/13/13  6:44 PM PST
Grandkids with Autism

Shield HealthCare 2nd Annual Readers’ Choice Contest Winner Spotlight | “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?”

Story by Alice R., Caregiver for her grandchildren

“Autism was a term unfamiliar to our family before the year 2007 when my first grandson was born. It was something we had only heard in passing but never really understood what it meant to have Autism. It was something that no family could prepare for. Roger was only months old when he was diagnosed with Autism. Within two years, he would have a new sister, Sarah, also diagnosed. Both my daughter and her husband work full time jobs to make ends meet. It was extremely difficult raising two children affected with this disability. I became their caregiver when Roger was weeks old. Then I took on the responsibility of caregiving for two children with disabilities, something that was completely new to a 53 year old grandmother. In 2010, a third child was born, Matthew. Never did I imagine that I would be a 58 year old grandmother taking care of three wonderful, loving and challenging children affected with Autism.

The most rewarding thing that comes out of taking care of my grandchildren is not only the smiles, the hugs, the laughs, the silly comments, but the “I love you” that comes after spilling the juice or the look of innocence after throwing all the eggs on the floor.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think “I’m too old for this” and then five minutes later, come to a realization that “I can never be too old for this.” I have a new appreciation for young life, and have often taken for granted how easy my responsibilities were in raising three girls. Now, watching my daughter, helping her raise three of her own, neither of which are “easy.” When they come out of their rooms every morning and yell “Grandma is here!!” it brings a smile to my heart. I am always there when they need me to turn on their games, to help them put on their shoes or to teach them how to sing the alphabet. I have taught each one of them how to “row a boat gently down the stream.” I never thought that after five years that they would have taught me more about life and how to love than I have learned in all these years. Roger, for instance, hardly shows emotion due to the nature and severity of his diagnosis, but I know that when he says, “I love you grandma!“ that he means it with every inch of his heart. How easy it is to forget the little things in life that warms our hearts, but they remind me every single day!

It isn’t an easy battle to feed them or to change a 5 year old toddler’s diaper, to teach them to share or to get them to speak for what they would like to do each day, but no challenge is without a reward. What makes caregiving rewarding for me is to know that my grandchildren were able to have me in their life, to know that I have taught them how to count, how to say “excuse me” and “thank you” and a few other words in Spanish, as well. I count my blessings every day that I have the opportunity to spend time with my grandchildren. Autism or not, they are what brings new life into my world each day.”

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