Sponsored by ABC of NC

Increasingly, grandparents play an important role in the teaching and upbringing of their grandchildren.  That’s why ABC of NC encourages grandparents to volunteer at the school for children with autism spectrum disorders.

“Grandparents are among our most trusted, effective and caring volunteers,” said Kirstin Downie, Director of Development and Volunteer Services. “They enjoy being a part of the education process and often have the time and resources to generously share their time with our school.”

Because autism causes emotional and financial strains on marriage, grandparents may play an even more significant role in helping ABC of NC families. A 2011 survey from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) found that 36 percent of grandparents of children with autism say they take care of their grandchild at least once a week and over 72 percent say they play a role in making treatment decisions.

“I wanted to know more about autism and spending time at ABC of NC helped me to understand my grandson better,” said Sue Joyner, a grandparent volunteer and former elementary school teacher assistant.

Grandparent volunteer Annette Horsley said that, as a former teacher, she knows the importance of a pair of helping hands in the classroom.

“ABC of NC doesn’t forget that children with autism are individuals with different needs. And it takes a lot more work to meet their education goals, said Horsley. “But I get more out of it than they do–it’s awesome to see my grandchild laughing and interacting with other children!”

According to Downie, the volunteer program is designed to help the grandparents meet their own goals while they help the children. Whether it is simply to learn more about autism, give back to the community in a meaningful way, or to learn techniques they can use at home, ABC of NC makes sure that volunteering is a fulfilling experience.

“A grandparent’s unique understanding and energy for our students and the relationships that are developed with others creates a team atmosphere at ABC of NC. When they choose to give their time to ABC of NC, it is the ultimate gift of kindness,” said Downie.

To learn more about volunteering at ABC of NC, contact Kirstin Downie at 336-251-1180 or Kirstin.Downie@abcofnc.org.