By Leslie Lindsay
Gloria is like any other grandparent. She gardens, she works, she is involved with her grandkids’ lives. But what you don’t know is Gloria has a grandson with CAS. I spent a little time chatting with Gloria so I may get a better understanding of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a grandparent who cares for a child with CAS.
L4K: Can you tell us a bit how you reacted when you learned of your grandson’s diagnosis?
GG: Like most I have never heard of Apraxia. I asked a lot of questions, there were moments that my daughter seemed to be upset by my questions. So, took the bull by the horns and googled websites so I could understand the “whys” and “how comes.”
It made me sad to be informed that not just [my grandson] has Apraxia, but children all over. This has made me cry a lot. For us to be part of [my grandson’s] world you have to listen/participate.
I remember at one of the groups I visited I pulled this picture of a child. I Had to explain what I saw and how it related to apraxia. My answer was, “it’s like this child is talking in the shadow- like no one was listening.”
L4K: Had you suspected there was a problem before your grandson was evaluated? Did you bring your concerns to his parents (your daughter)? How did they (she) respond?
GG: [My daughter] is a beautiful person, great mom, teacher and coach. I never suspected a problem until she got some facts for all of us. My grandson is a second child, with an older sister. I think at first I thought like many, [his sister] was pulling and saying want [he] wanted. [My daughter] felt something was wrong. She kept us informed on everything. That included, ENT, pediatrician, speech test, hearing test. There has never been a day that she put [her son] to the side.
To this day I do feel that there are some family members that look at Cole as a [big question mark] because they have chosen not to learn about apraxia.
L4K: Grandparents these days have varied roles in their grandkids’ lives–from very involved (perhaps living with their grandkids) to not much involvement at all. How do you think your involvement changed once you learned of your grandson’s diagosis?
GG: I was living in CA at the time my first grandchild was born. I moved back to to the Chicago area because I did not want to be a “picture frame” grandma. I have the best, awesome memories of being with my grandparents. I wanted that for my grandchildren.Involvement. I really feel in the middle. I’m 60 this year and still working. I am there for my children and grandchildren if they ask. I am not one to pry into their parenting.
I live about 95 miles from [my grandson with apraxia]. There has been times I drive there and back in a day.
I have taken [my grandson] to several appointments, but also have special time with his older sister. My daughter talks with her children all the time about apraxia. They know.
L4K: In what ways can grandparents be involved with helping with CAS?
GG:It’s not all about taking a child to therapy. It’s about the entire family. Give mom time at the grocery store “alone”. Stopping by to catch up on laundry for them because they all have been at work-meeting-therapy.
L4K: What advice would you give to grandparents just learning of the CAS diagnosis?
GG: We had so much fun at the walk in Michigan! [My grandson] has come so far this last year. We just visited a new baby cousin in D.C. This extended family never hesitated, never thought Cole was different, never thought “I can’t understand Cole.”
I was having a horrible day at work, ran into co-worker(father of 2) we started to chat. I mentioned the apraxia Michigan walk. I explained what I knew about CAS. Wow, a grown man–a father crying in the door and window aisle of the store. That got my tears going He was telling me about how they can not understand a word from their son. My daughter and I hooked him up with resources and ideas where to start.
Wow–thank you, Gloria. Sweet, touching and inspiring.