Veronica Jones - 23rd February 2022
Fostering a child with Autism (Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)) can be an amazing and rewarding experience, but can come with certain challenges and it can therefore sometimes prove difficult to find foster carers who understand the best way to look after children with autism.
What is ASD?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition, which is characterised by difficulties with social interaction and communication and often includes repetitive behaviours. However, because autism is a spectrum condition it affects children in different ways. So, whilst some children will need intensive support others may just need clearer communication and a little longer to do things.
Whilst no two children with autism are the same, there are some common characteristics including –
- Difficulty reading other people, recognising their feelings and intentions and difficulty in expressing emotions.
- The need for routines so they know what is going to happen next.
- Over or under sensitivity to sounds, light, temperature, tastes or smells which can be overwhelming and sometimes lead to sensory overload.
- Highly focussed interests and hobbies which can be pleasurable but may also lead to neglecting other areas of life.
- Suffering with anxiety which can, in some cases, lead to meltdowns involving tantrums or complete withdrawal.
The world can sometimes seem confusing for children with autism. For those coming into foster care, a sudden change of environment and routine can be extremely scary and distressing. It’s important that foster carers get as much information as possible from social workers about the child’s routines, likes and dislikes and any known triggers for behaviours. This will help the child feel comfortable and secure in their environment. Any sudden changes of routine can lead to heightened anxiety and should be avoided if possible. Moreover, it can be comforting for children to be allowed to keep their familiar belongings close. Foster carers need to get to know the child but also need to accept that this may take time and patience.
Could I foster a child with ASD?
Whilst prior experience of caring for a child with additional needs is advantageous, it is not compulsory. The main qualities needed for caring for children with ASD are:
- the ability to nurture
- time to commit.
A child with a disability is a child first and foremost and even small achievements can be celebrated!
If you foster a child with ASD you will not be alone. We work closely with our foster carers to provide specialist support, training and access to therapists. So, if you feel you could help support a child with ASD get in touch by contacting us on 01206 299775, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook or contact us via our website where you will also find lots of useful information and resources.