Autism from mema's view

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To all of you Grandmas, Grannies, Memas, Nanas and Memes ,

Were you like me, looking forward to your grandchild's arrival with visions of two chubby little legs running towards you with squeals of delight as he threw those little arms so tightly around your neck?  His third word (right after Da-Da and Ma-Ma) would be Mema - proof that you were special to him, as he was to you!  Well, likely it did not play out that way, though the last part is true - he IS special to you, as you are to him.

Asperger children have difficulty reading facial cues.  Likewise, I had difficulty reading my grandson's facial expressions.  They were intense, but sparse.  Often times he looked angry or pensive, when in fact, inside himself he was quite happy and content. And then, there was that lopsided Elvis grin when you least expected it --- 1,000 words there and oh so worth waiting for!

Another factor (and this was REALLY big) was unexpected changes that I did not properly prepare him for (who knew changing the sheets on his bed or adding blueberries to his morning smoothie would wreak havoc on his structured world). His other grandmother and I share a (now endearing, but then maddening) story about the time we were doing tag-team grand-parenting and horrors, I forgot to pack his blue, raveling, over-washed blankie with his belongings. The frantic phone call sent us on an urgent mission to meet 1/2 way to her house with the sacred blanket, without which there would be no sleep in her household that night!

Well, the years have flown by and that mysterious little boy is now almost a grown man. I could not love you more my grandson. What I want most in my lifetime is to dance at your wedding and witness your happiness and most of all, your place in this complicated world. For you, the journey will likely always be full of ups and downs. I would like to believe that the love and guidance given to you by your parents (my daughter and son-in-law) will have provided you with all the necessary tools.

So, all of you Memas and PaPas, support your grandchild's parents as best you can, love your special one unconditionally and try to enjoy the journey. Trust me on this, it will be an interesting one.