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When to tell prospective au pair about autism diagnosis

(10 Posts)
Puffthemagicdragongoestobed Thu 27-Apr-17 23:12:44

I just read the previous thread about a poster's DD who is au pair in Spain having a hard time dealing with a child with aspergers.

We now find ourselves on the other side of the coin - DS (7) received an ASD diagnosis earlier this year and we are just about to embark on recruiting a new au pair. I have to admit I am still struggling with the diagnosis, simply because DS is very high functioning, pretty easy going, no behavioural issues, lots of friends, happy at school, no sleep issues, has no issues getting ready in the morning by himself and leaving the house for school, gets invited to lots of playdates and birthdays and usually has a nice time, copes with change, is happy to travel, is very sociable etc.
The main way the ASD manifests itself is at school in that he has problems with his working memory. Other than that our life with him is normal, it does not feel to me like a disability, most days he is well behaved and pleasant.

We have had a lovely au pair since last summer, who herself was surprised to hear about the diagnosis. She has always been able to handle him very well and they have formed a lovely bond.

So far we have only shared the diagnosis with a few close friends, family and school.

We are just updating our profile on aupair world. However, I am not keen to disclose the diagnosis on our profile, mainly because profiles on au pair world are totally public for anyone to see - you don't even need a login to browse. I don't feel it would be fair towards DS publicising his diagnosis this way. My aim was to chat to a few prospective au pairs and if I feel I click with someone would tell them about DS's ASD and how we handle him.
No way would I go into a contract with an au pair without telling them, as happened to the previous poster's DD - I just don't wish to put it on our profile on AuPairWorld. I think it's a great site and I'd rather avoid going down the agency route.

Is this a fair approach? (please tell me it is..)

DancingLedge Thu 27-Apr-17 23:15:48

Based on his behaviour, yes.

Maggy74653 Thu 27-Apr-17 23:17:35

Yes I would say your approach sounds reasonable under the circumstances xx

Puffthemagicdragongoestobed Thu 27-Apr-17 23:18:47

Thank you for taking your time to respond x

oldbirdy Thu 27-Apr-17 23:21:53

How did he get a diagnosis? Who was concerned? This doesn't make sense to me, and I work on a diagnostic team. Working memory difficulties is not a diagnostic criteria for autism....if a child has specific working memory issues, then that is called 'working memory difficulties', not autism. Very strange.

If you want to be fully fair, why not describe the issues he does have ("son has some working memory problems" or whatever) and what would be expected to change from a typical role because of that (" and so needs reminding to complete homework tasks and uses a colour coding system for his exercise books" or whatever).

Puffthemagicdragongoestobed Fri 28-Apr-17 00:03:52

Oldbirdy, he did an ados test with a SALT and a Development paediatrician and reached the threshold for ASD.
He did have issues as a toddler, mainly struggling with transitions and his language was delayed. He had been under review with the development paed sind age 3 because I took him there, concerned about his language development. Last year I took him back to the paed for a review expecting to be discharged but then he had a huge meltdown in front of her and she just said we should go down the formal route for autism assessment. We then had an independent agency observing him at school as well as another SALT observation at school. Both noted that he was sociable with other children and that there were no behavioural issues at school but that he had working memory problems and some difficulty in understanding instructions. Also inconsistent eye contact.
I Cant remember what else they said I would need to dig out their reports for further detail.

We then had the ados appointment a few months ago when they noted that he was struggling with the tasks challenging his imagination. Also, they scored him for not being reciprocal with the assessor in that he didn't seem to show interest in what she was telling him about herself during the task. And lack of eye contact. But he was fully compliant during the assessment, just not very engaging.

they also did another interview with me to talk about certain aspects about his development and behaviour and then all combined led to the diagnosis.

Whenever I read about the struggles that people have with autism I can never really relate to it. When I told this to one of the autism advisors working for our local NHS she just said that autism comes in all shapes and sizes.

I dunno. I will accept the diagnosis for now because I keep reading that issues often become more pronounced as kids get older.
At the moment we are happy with him and his development and try to support him wherever he is struggling.
With regards to prospective au pairs I would have him speak to them on Skype, I would explain any issues he could have and I would also have our current au pair share her experience.

Xmasbaby11 Fri 28-Apr-17 00:06:55

I think that's reasonable. Potential applicants may be put off if they don't have experience or knowledge of autism. As you say, it's such a spectrum. A lot of children would require careful treatment but it doesn't sound like your ds does.

oldbirdy Fri 28-Apr-17 08:20:51

Ok but just be aware that no one pigeonholes him and thinks of him only as autistic when by the sounds of it, language and working memory are the key issues he needs support around. Don't let them stop seeing him as an individual and start putting in visual timetables and social stories because "that's what you do for autistic children" without considering what your son actually needs.

Fwiw one of my kids is diagnosed, and needs the diagnosis, he has severe social anxiety and communication difficulties. Another of my kids we suspect would meet criteria if we sent him for assessment but we have never pursued it as he manages perfectly well in all contexts and one of the key reasons to diagnose should always be that there is a significant impact upon the person's life of their issues.

Do consider getting it looked at again at some point , maybe by an education specialist?

ReasonableEnthusiast Fri 28-Apr-17 09:22:25

Hi OP I used to au pair through au pair works in the past and would say you don't necessarily have to disclose his diagnosis but do mention his additional needs when describing your ideal candidate. That way it wont put off those au pairs who don't know the whole spectrum of ASD but otherwise would be ideal for the job. Something like, 'our wonderful, sociable and caring son X has recently started receiving some additional support for his memory processing and whilst no specialist training is required, we are looking for an au pair who is willing to help provide consistency in this support and be open to learning'

This way you may be able to find someone who is interested in working with additional needs or has some experience. At the time my now DH, Dbil and nephew have a high functioning diagnosis with atypical features (and still do) so would not have put me off. I'd imagine there are plenty of au pairs out there who would feel the same as/ have similar experience to me so I wouldn't feel too disheartened. I would imagine finding the right personality and temperament that 'gets' how your son ticks will make all the difference in how everyone gets along

On another point , in my case being a little older (early 20's instead of 18) and working in positions which had greater hours/intensity of childcare than what could be expected of an au pair I had a job role that was more akin to an unqualified nanny and found myself receiving a minimum wage pay instead of an 'allowance'. Once you've found your ideal candidate, if you feel that they would be going beyond what the standard au pair is expected to provide and you can afford it , you could always make their 'allowance' ' higher than recommended to compensate.

All the best in your search OP, au pairing is great for everyone involved when it works well and there is a huge variety of candidates out there of all life experiences.

chloeb2002 Fri 26-May-17 22:20:37

I'm with oldybirdy.. given it sounds like a very "loose" diagnosis of asd.
We have one of our children ds now 9, who has multiple special needs. Mainstream school, but big delays, cognitive, developmental etc. multiple complex health needs.
We have 3 other dc with no issues.
Ds has an asd diagnosis which is loose.. maybe not as loose as your sons! But we have always discussed his needs with every au pair.
Until our last ap we have not had an issue. The last one was to be our last! She simply couldn't cope in any respect with anything beyond "normal" despite being given lots of help, so it is important you brief potential ap with exactly how and what may need to be altered to be as sure as you can be that they will cope

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