GAN receives inquiries from grandparents residing in other states and countries for information about how to establish a chapter of GAN in their local community. GAN is an all-volunteer organization that primarily serves the 34 cities that comprise Orange County, California. However, our two websites, www.ganinfo.org and www.faninfo.org support people from more than 100 countries. The websites provide information about our programs, projects and events and we encourage grandparents in other communities to replicate them. Our name and logo, however, are copyrighted and may not be copied.
Find Other Grandparents
Here are a few suggestions that should help you to develop a grandparent autism support group in your community:
- If you live nearby your grandchild’s family, ask them to identify other families with local grandparents that you can contact.
- Join local chapters of national autism organizations and participate in your community Autism Speaks Walk or other local autism events to meet other families.
- Contact hospitals, pediatricians, neurologists, autism service providers and special education teachers to determine if they know other grandparents. It is best to provide them with a simple, one page flyer with your contact information for them to post or distribute.
- Use FaceBook or other social media sites to announce the formation of the new support group and how to contact you to learn more. Your children and friends can also post the information or a flyer on their sites for you.
- Request a speaker from a local university or autism center to make a presentation on a topic of interest to grandparents. Avoid engaging self-promoting speakers or endorsements for commercial products. See “Presentations Past” on this website for some ideas.
- Schedule a meeting in your home or in a local cost-free facility. Churches, synagogues, libraries, senior centers, non-profit organizations and school districts will be most likely to provide meeting sites for your group.
Here are additional ways you can advocate and expand support for the autism community:
Advocate for Autism
- Grandparents can help to eliminate social stigmas associated with autism. Disclosing that you have a family member with autism typically encourages other people to ask questions, learn more and increase their support for autism causes.
- Invite family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community philanthropic organizations (i.e. Rotary, Women’s Clubs, Business Networking Groups, etc.) to support advocacy and fund raising efforts for autism causes.
- Increase support for more research, comprehensive insurance coverage, better special education classes, new employment opportunities, more housing options, accessible transportation and social opportunities for people with autism in your community. Help to develop lifetime supports.