Grandparents—they’re the ones to embrace you in warm bear hugs, sneak you a freshly baked cookie before the big Thanksgiving meal, and at SARRC, they have become our most dependable group of volunteers and autism advocates.
This October marks the 18th anniversary of our Grandparents Support Group. The group started in 2002 as a place for grandparents to come together, learn about autism and how to best help their children and grandchildren on their autism journeys.
The group’s beloved founder, Kathy Bosco, became interested in the autism community when her grandson was diagnosed when he was only a year and a half old. She discovered SARRC and volunteered her time in order to absorb as much knowledge as she could. Realizing she wanted other grandparents to have the same support and resources, she founded the coveted Grandparents Support Group with the humbling intent to not only educate, but to empower others as they begin (or continue) on their autism journey.
SARRC's Grandparent Group Founder, Kathy Bosco, with her grandson
“When I was asked to start a Grandparents Support Group 18 years ago, I realized there was no road map for this. None existed, so I had to pioneer the journey. Even though the outstanding education and research updates are so important for grandparents, the absolute, most important piece throughout the years has been the support. Support not only given by myself and SARRC, but the support they have given each other as they navigate through autism with their grandchildren,” said Kathy.
“Together we have listened to them, reached out to them and given them the hope and encouragement they needed. The role of the grandparent in the family dynamic has become such a sophisticated and integral part of the autism journey, and the Grandparents Group is here to acknowledge that role and assist in any way we can.”
These values of unity and communication are what has helped the group remain strong over the past 18 years. What started as a close-knit group of five members has now impacted the lives of over 450 members. In fact, many of the members joined when their grandkids were young, and are happy to report their grandchildren have evolved into independent, thriving adults.
“Through our meetings and socializing with other grandparents, I have picked up some very good tips on how to interact and react with, not only my granddaughter, but others on the spectrum. Come to our meetings and you will understand you are not in this alone,” said Sharon Wilson, Grandparents Support Group member.
While the former in-person meetings have been transformed into an online gathering due to the pandemic, members can still gain access to meaningful autism education, hear from esteemed guest speakers and make connections with other grandparents.
As for the grandparents out there considering if Grandparents Support Group is right for them? JayZann Brecunier, a dedicated member and advocate for the group, has poignant words of advice.
“There are a lot of emotions that can run rampant when an autism diagnosis is made, and grandparents may have the assumption that such a diagnosis is a negative life-sentence. Not so! By joining, you will not only feel connected and heard, but your eyes will be completely opened to just how far the world of autism education and outcomes have come. You will also learn that having a grandchild with autism is a glorious thing! Yes, it has its times, but wow, will you see your grandchild in a new and exciting way,” said JayZann.