Being a foster parent is always going to be challenging. The children you look after will come from a variety of backgrounds and they will have been through different things to have put them in the foster care system. Understanding this and being kind, caring, and compassionate is crucial. However, what would happen if the child you needed to take care of was autistic? How would that change things? Of course, you would still want to care for them in the same way, but this might not be possible; children with autism may need a different kind of care, depending on their individual needs.
Foster parents who go on to foster autistic children will need specialist training, and ideally, they will need experience of autism in their lives in some way. If you were to foster an autistic child, what are some useful tips to help you? Read on to find out.
Find Local Support Groups
As a foster parent, you will get a lot of support. You will have plenty of training, ongoing back up, and you will even have a fostering allowance. However, what you might want more of is specific autism parenting support. This is where a support group specifically for this particular need could be useful, and it is recommended that you join one.
When you join a support group like this, you can find help and advice from other parents who are taking care of children with autism just like you. Whether the child is biologically yours, fostered, or adopted, their needs are not going to change, and by joining a support group you can learn a lot about what is required and what is expected of you.
Although everyone is different, there are some things that many children with autism have in common. They like routine, for example, and can become highly distressed if that routine is out of place. Being placed in a foster home will clearly disrupt their routine, and this can cause them to become angry or withdrawn. Therefore, it’s crucial to put their routine in place as soon as possible, and to gather information about exactly what their routine might be before they come to live with you. Ask as many people who know them as possible so you can ensure everything is ready.
It’s also useful to find out more about:
- Any triggers they might have – good or bad
- What needs to be avoided entirely
- What do they like or dislike?
- What do they need to feel secure and safe?
Understanding this will make fostering a child with autism easier for parent and child alike.
Find The Right School
Finding the right school for any child is important, but when your foster child has additional needs, it is a crucial consideration. Of course, ideally they will be able to stay at their current school, but this is not always possible due to location and moving to different areas. Because of this, you may be required to find a good school for them.
Of course, the child’s parents will retain their parental rights and will have the final say over which school their child attends. However, by doing all the research, visiting the school, seeing what provisions they have in place, and speaking to the teachers who will be in charge of the child’s education, you can put forward a good case as to which school you think is the best.
This is a contributed post and therefore may not reflect the views and opinions of this blog or its author. ☺