When Kathy Bosco’s grandson was diagnosed with autism, she delved into learning as much as she could about it. She found a lot of resources and information, but one thing was missing—a support group specifically for grandparents. So, in 2002, she formed the Grandparents Group. The group began with just six members. Today, it has grown to include more than 400 members since its founding.
One of those members is Nila Johnson. After her grandson Jared received an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, she was told about Southwest Autism & Resource Center (SARRC). Jared joined the Community School, and another grandson, who did not have autism, was enrolled in the toddler class. Soon after, Jared’s older half-brother received an Asperger’s diagnosis.
It was around that time that Johnson learned about SARRC’s Grandparents Group.
“Joining the grandparents group was very educational,” she shares. “We have great speakers, either from within SARRC or outsiders who are involved with autism in some other organization. All the speakers are up-to-date with what is going on in the autism world.”
In addition to offering a network of support, grandparents attending the group’s monthly meetings participate in facilitated discussions, learn the latest information about autism from guest speakers, receive advice and training, and socialize with each other.
“There is always time for questions and answers so you can learn a lot from other grandparents’ questions or talk to the speaker after the session if you have an individual question,” Johnson says. “There are also up-to-date articles that are handouts to take home and read and share with the parents.”
And of course, “Besides being educational, you are in a group that shares the same challenges that you have. Sometimes they know about services that you haven’t heard about or just fun places to take your grandchild.”
Ten years after first joining, Johnson is still a member of the group, finding it an invaluable resource.
Grandparents Group meetings are held monthly from October through May, with the goal of empowering, enriching and supporting all members. For information about the upcoming meeting on Friday, Oct. 20, click here.