Grandparenting a Child with Special Needs: For the Love of Aimee, Pt. 2

Today’s post, along with yesterday’s, comes from guest blogger Julie Riera Matsushima. She’s the author of For the Love of Aimee, a memoir of her relationship with her granddaughter Aimee who lives with special needs. Yesterday, Julie said the first priority of grandparents is to maintain a loving, supportive relationship with their children, the parents of the child with special needs. Today, she describes another component of grandparenting a child with special needs: how to be a supportive grandparent.

Grandparenting a Child with Special Needs: It Takes a Family

So what does it mean to become an involved and supportive grandparent?  What can you do to make a difference?  The quality of life provided to a child with special needs may largely depend on the quality of life experienced by the family as a whole.  Special needs children deserve the same good quality of life as their siblings and peers.  It may be a slightly different quality of life but nevertheless a good one.

Include Children in Family Events

Attitude, motivation and involvement on the part of the entire family, not just grandparents, can make all the difference in the world.  Inclusion in most, if not all, family activities, outings and travel will provide rich experiences and opportunities for the special needs child to develop their own identity within the extended family unit.

Grandparents can become involved in adaptive sports activities, which provide an outlet for physical activity and an opportunity to build self-confidence.   Music and art can also provide grandparents with opportunities to develop creative outlets and interest, even if it is simply listening to music or looking at an art exhibit together.  Reading, crafts, baking and other activities can provide hours of enjoyment and gratification when sharing this experience with a special needs child.

Make Your Home Accessible

Extended family should be prepared with appropriate equipment in their home that will provide a safe, accessible and secure environment when the child visits.  Walks together and outings at the local park are the most simple opportunities to enjoy nature and get to know each other.

Emotional well being and a sense of belonging, participating and inclusion will provide the child with rich opportunities and confidence to interact with others outside the extended family and reap the rewards of loving relationships with others in their lives.  Grandparents can provide activities that will also serve to develop appropriate behavior, communication and social skills.

Make a Difference

Involvement in the child’s school is another area rich in activities for grandparent involvement.  Participation in school activities, homework, reading and learning skills can provide the child a heightened level of interest and satisfaction in learning.

Grandparents should also arm themselves with knowledge about the Americans with Disabilities Act, and information about their own grandchild’s rights in school, in transportation, and in life in general.

It is obvious to me that special needs children simply want to be part of the human race; to participate in life the way all children do.  Grandparents can and do make a tremendous difference in their lives. I encourage you to think about what you have to offer and what you can do to make a difference to the family in your own life with a special needs child.

We can all make a difference.

Win a Free Copy of the Book!

Julie has generously donated three copies of For Love of Aimee for a book giveaway. To enter the drawing to win one of the copies, leave a comment about how grandparents are involved in your child’s life here or at the end of Part 1 of this series.. The cut off date for comments is midnight on Monday, July 11, 2011. This contest is now closed.

To learn more about Julie, visit her website at

Thanks, Julie, for sharing your insights with us. Aimee is blessed to have such a loving grandmother!

Part 1

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  1. July 7, 2011    

    My parents have been so supportive of Tara, and all if the needs she may have. She has always been just or of the “bunch” with them. When Tara was first diagnosed and became so sick, my mom moved into the hospital with us. She took an extended leave of absence from her work, and as I loved on my daughter, she loved on hers. She would out me to bed at night inthe hospital waiting room, then stand watch over Tara staying over night so I could sleep. She has become a staple going to every “Ologist” appointment that we have had, to know exactly how she can help me, and in return help Tara. Some may say it’s because she is a nurse, she wants to be involved from a medical stand point. But my family and I know the truth. The truth is she is just the best “Nanny” a girl could have.

  2. Jason Peepgrass Jason Peepgrass
    July 8, 2011    

    Being a father of a special needs child, I see the importance of the grandparents role and the happiness it brings my daughter.

    The biggest thing for me is including her with friends and family…it is amazing how many children gravitate towards her…adults too. But she loves to go and be included and to be a part of the action.

    She also loves school and talking about her day…after school or at dinner time she can’t wait to talk about her daily activities, what she learned, who she talked to and what they did.

    Children, whether they have special needs or not, want to be included, want to know they matter and want to be loved and part of a family. Through the most difficult of times, I would never change a thing. She is truly a gift from God!

    Great article Julie!!! Look forward to the next one.

  3. July 21, 2011    

    My apologies for being so late announcing the winners in the drawing! The three people who will receive copies of “The Love of Aimee” are:

    Kathy, Lisa, and Lynette

    I will contact each of you via email to get your mailing addresses and pass the information on to Julie’s publicist. She will send your books very soon.


  4. Sally Rollins Sally Rollins
    August 4, 2011    

    I am the grandmother of a beautiful little girl, she was born 2/22/06 1lb 6 ounces. 12 inches long. She came 16 wks premature. At the time, I was living in Delaware and my daughter was in the Air Force in Texas. Right after Tatianna was born, my companyy was sold. So, I asked my husband to retire, we sold off alot of furniture, sold our house and moved to Texas to help my daughter with Tatianna. Alot of friends did not understand this, and new friends feel I help too much. I would not trade a day of Tatianna. She gives so much love. I truly believe it takes a Village to raise a child with disablities.

  5. August 4, 2011    

    Your granddaughter and family are blessed to have you in their lives, Sally!


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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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