Family arguing over austistic grandaughter

My young granddaughter has been diagnosed with autism. Two members of our family refuse to accept the diagnosis and begin an argument at every family get together. Our large family has always gotten along very well but now every get together turns into a terrible argument with yelling and foul language.I will not participate but am being accused of taking sides anyway. Their are young children that witness this and they have come to me quite upset. As a Catholic what can I say to help put a stop to this situation that is tearing our family apart. God bless you .and thank you for your help.

Maybe the problem children need an education about what autism is. Many people whose brain is wired that way are very high-functioning, and many people are carrying around a misconceptions about what a diagnosis means. This is a neurological condition that can present very differently in different individuals.

They certainly need an education about minding their own business and keeping their mouths closed when their opinion isn’t wanted. If they cannot do that, it does not matter one bit if they are right and everyone else is wrong. They need to be asked to leave the gathering, with the rest refusing to have a thing to do with them until they do. Certainly you as the grandmother can put your foot down when your grandchildren are being upset by the lack of self-control being shown by so-called adults. Chaos is unacceptable, people who cause chaos have no right to do it, and no one else ought to feel some need to tolerate it, but least of all one of the matriarchs or patriarchs of the family or the parents of children. Everyone in the civilized world knows this, whether they are religious or not.

Let the individuals who were out-of-bounds know that you do not care whether they were right or not, you are not going to tolerate shouting, profanity, or even serious rudeness at family gatherings where you are present, but particularly not where the grandchildren are present. Offenders will be asked to leave, and if it is at your house, you’ll call the police if you have to, but you will not take “no” for an answer and you will not have this kind of disruption again. If they have to be forced to leave, they will not be invited back, period. In addition, if the offenders have a shred of civility, tell them the parties to whom they owe an apology.

These are problem adults. Such abusive behavior wouldn’t be tolerated from friends, nor should it be by families.
We do not have sufficient information nor knowledge of your family members and their reasons for behaving thus, but definite steps should be taken for the sake of the autistic child and the other children. The rest of the family needs to be united in dealing with this issue and setting boundaries if family gatherings are to continue.

I certainly wouldn’t want my children or grandchildren to be present for such uncivilized behaviour. If the family can’t function properly together perhaps they need to celebrate in different family group combinations as the current general gatherings are unhealthy and certainly not evidence of family unity or love.

May God heal all that needs healing and the family members take the steps needed to protect children from bad and intolerant example.

People need to be educated more on the disorder and how to recognize early symptoms.The condition seems to be much more prevelant now or perhaps we are becoming more aware of it.

Do not be too hard on a family finding it hard to come to grips with a diagnosis they may barely understand. Autism is a broad spectrum affliction with a varied group of symptoms and prognoses. The overall effect on the child in the long run depends on appropriate treatment but will require great patience from her family.
The more they know the less they will fear and the less they will reject. God sometimes feels a long way away in these times, but He is surprisingly close if you open your eyes in Hope. Easy words, but I am sure many prayers are with you.

Love, patience, and understanding would help. Praying for proper order in your family.

It sounds as if there is a lot of fear in their reaction - denial of a truth, and fear that they may somehow be impacted personally - even being autistic themselves or their future children.

I too have an autistic grandchild, and was married to his Aspergers syndrome grandfather - his family always maintained there was nothing wrong with him. Ha!

As there are two members of a large family that are the troublemakers they should be excluded from future family gatherings.

What can be done? First step is saying to people they have a right to their opinion. However, ask that everyone express them politely, charitably, kindly and not with any bad language.

Right now, rather than objecting to their arguments, object to the WAY they express themselves. I don’t know if it will help, but that’s the point you need to address right now. Well, if people begin speaking in a nicer tone, it would automatically help matters.

When people use bad language, I say, “Now, don’t you be talk’ like a caveman!” Or, you could say, “Language…gentlemen/people!”

I’ll close with a prayer.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blest is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. :gopray:

You could call a truce an announce that certain topic will be off limits, since it only causes fighting. So, you could say the topic of “autism” is now off-limits.

I’m from a family of 11, and we called a truce, agreeing to disagree. At some family gatherings, we agreed we would simply not raise the issues of religion or politics, because we knew it would only cause strife.

Sometimes, despite the truce, people would still raise the issues, even so. One sister who acts as a very good mediator would, gently, remind people. “Remember, we agreed not to discuss politics or religion”.

Have another rule that there will no longer be cussing or bad language in that house.

If the two people in question aren’t the parents or medical professionals experienced in autism, then their opinion isn’t important. You are the grandmother, tell them to quit yelling and being rude or they won’t be welcome at family gatherings. Remind them that no one is happy about this diagnosis but that the child and her parents need support and help from their family, not denial. Yelling and cursing isn’t going to undo her condition.


Ask everybody to change the subject, saying that you all want to have a nice visit.

Well said: :thumbsup:

I agree, and will only add this: in Gods eye everyone is perfect, autistic or not.

Interesting how placing a label on a person
or a diagnosis can turn everything upside down
and turn people against
the one given the unpopular label
and against each other.
It sounds like they didn’t argue about the granddaughter before.
She’s still the same person
now that she was before the diagnosis.
Don’t they love her anymore?
Don’t they have the same love for each other anymore?

Prayers for peace in the family.

There is lots of good advice upthread. Even were these discussions appropriate and civil, the granddaughter’s issues should not be discussed in front of the children. It might be appropriate to schedule a non-kid family meeting where you bring in the child’s psychologist to talk about her diagnosis and what everybody can do to help her. My daughter (who has an autism spectrum diagnosis) is in a regular private school and every year, we pay $140 out of pocket for her psychologist to come talk to half a dozen teachers and staff 1) about autism in general 2) her specific history and 3) ongoing issues. It’s one of the best $140 we spend all year. It might be a very good idea to do the same thing for the extended family, although the problem relatives need to be warned that they need to wait their turn and be civil. They may well be better-behaved when talking to an outsider and doing it in the psychologist’s office would probably also be helpful.

Temple Grandin’s book Emergence, the Temple Grandin HBO movie, Autism the Musical and Horse Boy are all good things to share. I would even suggest watching the Temple Grandin movie with the granddaughter at some point.

Best wishes!

Show them the professional report…that should shut them up. If not, discount them like we did. Don’t need pettiness on this journey.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit