Fostering Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
There are many children being fostered today who are on the Autistic Spectrum and many foster carers who specialise in looking after these children. Foster carers say that caring for these children is not always easy, but can be extremely rewarding.
Children with ASD see the world differently to children who do not have ASD. ASD children have to be cared for in a particular way, dependent on the severity of their disorder and how its impacted on their development, traits and character. Generally children with ASD are not comfortable with spontaneity, which means no impromptu trips out and trips have to be planned possibly months in advance, preparing with photographs and discussion to prepare the young person.
Children with ASD like routines and in lots of cases this is little room for change, as they may be unable to cope with the change. To help the children and young people adapt to change one may use a timeline with pictures to present to the young person a plan of what is exactly going to happen , when and where. For example they get up in the morning at 7.00 am, they have their breakfast of ………., they brush their teeth, they have a shower, leave for school at 8.30 am etc. This type of planning with pictures allows the young person to study in detail what is going to happen and this reassures them and hopefully avoids difficulties when changing a routine.
Adapting to caring for a child with ASD
Fostering a child with ASD means the foster carer will have to adapt their whole life to the complex needs of the foster child. These foster carers learn to be creative and adaptable to all types of challenging and difficult situations. For example you would not be able to take a an ASD child into a busy shopping mall with crowds of people, so you may have to become an online shopper instead.
Careful what you say!
As mentioned previously children with ASD can take things said literally, so you need to be careful what you say and think about how the young person is interpreting what you say. For example ‘is raining cats and dogs or you will catch your death out there’ etc, may be problematic, as you can imagine!
For further information, resources and support go to the National Autistic Society