How can extended family members support relatives with autistic children?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,403
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses how extended family members can support relatives with autistic children.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: How can extended family members support relatives with autistic children?

    Peggy Halliday: Having a child with autism is a very difficult proposition for parents. You are dealing with a lot of behaviors that can be very difficult such as self injury and aggression and tantrums. You are dealing with a lot of expenses and I think it can extremely helpful if extended family members educate themselves to what the autism diagnosis really means. If they find out more about it they are not judgmental. So I have heard parents talk about how difficult it is to take their child out in public, if they to tendency to tantrum. If you have family members that understand what this is like and can help with it, it can really help make your life easier.

    Also, you can offer just some general respect care if you happened to live -- if you are a grandparent and you live near your child, your grand child who has autism you can get to know that grand child, you can get to know what you can do to relieve some of the stresses for the parents. Also, understanding that it puts great deal of stress on the marriage and anything you can do to help take some of the stresses off can be very helpful to the family that has a child with autism.