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Getting an au pair for an autistic child

(12 Posts)
henryhsmum Sun 17-Oct-10 12:03:47


I have a 4 year old boy who is autistic. I recently decided to give up work to spend more time with him and because I was finding it difficult to get mainstream childcare for him. I am now thinkign of setting up a cattery to try and get a balance between working but being at home for him. However being realistic I am going to need some extra help with him, mainly for a couple of hours each morning. I am thinking of getting an au pair as its home based care and affordable.

My mum has kind of put me off the idea by making a snide remark that my DS needs stability and that I may as well have stayed at work if I was going to get an au pair. This is what she did with me and my sister and in her words wouldn't have dreamed of having iot any other way. She doesn't seem to understand that I have to have a balance between caring for him, having an income and interests of my own.

I wondered if anyone had any views/experience of if an au pair would be disruptive for an autistic child? Henry is quite sociable and very good at reading emotions, his autism more manifests itself in the sense of not following instructions/having his own agenda.

henryhsmum Sun 17-Oct-10 12:05:17

ETA - we live in a village and the usual childcare options aren't really viable where we live - there are no local childminders, nurseries or before/after school clubs and I can't afford a nanny

silverfrog Sun 17-Oct-10 12:11:04

we have just employed a nanny for very similar reasons.

I am going back to studying, and need someone to help with general day to day stuff.

I have 2 girls - dd1 is 6, and quite severely ASD. dd2 is 3, and probably has AS.

dd1 is at SN school fulltime, in the next county over, and dd2 has just started at a local pre-school.

even if I didn't want to do anything for myself, I would need help with school runs etc.

we have gone for getting a live in nanny, as that solves a lot of our issues re: babysitting as well (dd1 can be extrememly anxious) - we have 2 evenings a week included in our contract.

already, within 3 weeks, we have had more of a social life than we have had for the last 4 years (no family nearby to help out)

if you find the right person, there is no reason why this should be disruptive for your ds.

mariagoretti Sun 17-Oct-10 12:12:52

Could work very well... but very dependent on getting the right person. In a perfect world you'd be able to spend plenty of time training them up, and getting him used to someone else. Might be good preparation for school & all those changes as well.

IndigoBell Sun 17-Oct-10 12:33:41

Absolutely no reason at all why you shouldn't get an Au-Pair. Your mum is just projecting her beliefs on to you.

You wouldn't want to change your Au-Pair every month or two - but you wouldn't want that regardless of whether your kid had SN or not.

A good Au-Pair will look after you children well for the hours they are asked to.

It's up to you to find a 'good' Au-Pair. Make sure you state clearly in the job ad that your son has Autism. And then observe how she is at interview.

Good luck. It sounds like a great idea.

henryhsmum Sun 17-Oct-10 13:09:03

It sounds a lot better than my mum made out it might be!

I am hoping that the fact I am here most of the time will help. It is more that I can't keep a close enough eye on him some of the time and I'm not really comfortable with him beign in the house on his own while I'm in the cattery, even though its in the garden.

Silverfrog - we are in a similar sitation to you in that my DS is at SN school full time. Is your nanny a nanny rather than an au pair and does she live with you? I guess a nanny would be the ideal for me but I'm a bit concerned about the cost

henryhsmum Sun 17-Oct-10 13:10:14

Silverfrog -sorry just reread and saw that yours is a live in nanny

genieinabottle Sun 17-Oct-10 13:21:25

From my experience, you need to be sure the au-pair understands fully the difficulties she will encounter while looking after your ds.

When i was 19, i came to London as a foreign au-pair girl to stay with a family who had 2 dc. A boy, 9y old, NT, and a girl of 6 with Rett syndrome.
The au-pair agency had of course told me she had SN before i accepted the job, but they told me she had Down syndrome. hmm (bad practise! hey) so i did a bit of research about Downs to try to understand it a bit better, and left thinking i can do this.

My english was not too good and when talking to the mum on the phone a couple of times, i still didn't realised how disabled the little girl really was. So it was a shock when i got there and i found it very hard trying to adjust. But i stuck with the job.

If i were to look for an au-pair that would be one of the priority, making sure she knows what to expect with my child for a good start.

Good luck.

silverfrog Sun 17-Oct-10 13:32:35

Yes, she is live on. Cost is an issue, but you obviously get more for your money too.

Our many does 8am to 7.30pm mon-fri, plus 2 evenings babysitting for 300 net per week. Then there is food costs on top, but tbh she doesn't actually.seem to eat hmm

You could find a younger person, looking for experience for cheaper than that. Whereabouts are you, as costs vary hugely. You could try asking on the nappies/childcare board, they are very helpful.

I like the live in aspect, as it means dh & I can get back to doing things together again, eg theatre trips and suchlike, where we would leave before bedtime - having someone who is a constant across daytime/babysitting has helped dd1 accept this. But you might be able to find that flexibility with a daily.person too.

Jasmijndutch Mon 08-Nov-10 08:11:02

Hi there,

Damn i really hate that i am still going to school right now. I have allot of experience with autistic children. If you want i can give you some advice about how to help your son? Here in holland we have allot of stuff which can help you.

You can email me:

Kind regards,


lisad123isgoingcrazy Mon 08-Nov-10 09:40:07

thats a very odd post jasmijn hmm

Personally from my experience of Au pairs they dont tend to stick around long especially in a family with issues.

Could you look into getting mothers help? if your planning on being there all day then its not a problem. Where abouts are you?

Davros Mon 08-Nov-10 10:01:58

I think it would be ideal. Don't let your mum put you off, she is just jealous that you are not doing what she did and maybe she wishes she'd taken other choices. We had a great Au Pair when DD was born and DS (severe ASD) was 7.5. She came cold via some friends who had met her on holiday and knew she was hard working and enthusiastic. She was great to their DS, who has SN but not ASD, so we just went ahead. I know other people who have had Au Pairs for their kids with ASD too so it is not that uncommon. Don't get put off if it doesn't work the first time, our kids can often cope with change quite well and you mustn't persist with someone who is no good. I would think the biggest issue is where to find someone and how to sort the wheat from the chaff (unless you are gfcf!).

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