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Potentially looking after an Autistic child

(7 Posts)
DraculasMum Wed 31-Aug-11 22:13:39

Hi all, i have put this in AIBU but have been kindly pointed in this direction for some help.

Im just starting out childminding and have had an enquiry from a parent with a 4 year old who has been diagnosed with mild autism traits.

Can anyone tell me what i need to put in place in terms of care, equipment?

What can i expect to deal with on a daily basis?

I don't know much about the condition so if anyone can give me some personal experience?

One last question; how different are the requirements of an autistic child i.e attention, demands, care in comparison to looking after a child with no diagnosis?

beautifulgirls Wed 31-Aug-11 22:34:27

I would suggest you might find the National Autistic society website a good first place to have a look for some information about autism. www.autism.org.uk/. I think this is going to be a difficult question to answer as every child with autism is different to the next. Some have extremes of autistic traits and others are so mild as to be hard to even get it recognised by some people. Therefore I would actually suggest the best source of information about the child you may be going to care for would be from the parents themselves. I'm sure they would welcome you asking them about any special arrangements they may consider that s/he needs and talking things through. Perhaps think about things like routine, quiet areas for times of sensory overload, behaviour in and out of the home (holding hands/going in the car/road safety etc may not be straightforward), providing for obsessions, reactions with other children/adults etc. Also worth asking about behavioural strategies that are being used. The usual discipline methods often need to be rethought. It is also worth knowing about how the child communicates - again the complete range of extremes is possible with speech.

All this may sound quite daunting, but you describe the child as having mild traits so it is quite possible that in many ways the child is not so different to any other non autistic child. If you had my own DD unless you knew about autistic behaviours you probably wouldn't guess. You'd think she was quirky perhaps but she is well behaved (follows rules to the letter) and shouldn't present a major problem to care for. Her non-autistic sister on the other hand....

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 31-Aug-11 22:44:27

The child will require things that you 'probably' do well anyway.
Clear Boundaries and rules (and a bit of time to teach them). Safe Enivornment. Immediate consequences for bad behaviour and immediate rewards for good.

Where things might differ is in the Child Initiated Learning. Children with autism (saying 'children with autism' is usually preferable to 'autistic children') are often not that great at playing with a range of things and find new experiences a bit daunting, so you might have to vary access and rotate toys, or direct the child a bit more to new things, often with a huge immedate reward for trying.

The child might have some sensitivities (can come about from being afraid of new things or just because their sensors are turned up too high or too low) to textures, foods, light, noise, touch, smell. My ds' favourite foods at a year old were olives and smoked salmon for example.

If you have a good routine and the child knows what to expect then they will feel comfortable after having settled in. However, it is important that any changes to routine are explained in advance and not a surprise. If you ALWAYS offer an apple after the school run, then it is probably best not to run out of apples. Alternatively, if you do and you see that this has become a rigid expectation you can work on making the child more flexible, like offering different types of apple, different shapes and eventually different fruit etc.

Eveiebaby Wed 31-Aug-11 23:27:11

I think you would need to talk to the parent and meet the child to gain a better understanding of the childs requirements. All children on the spectrum are unique just as all typically developing children have individual personalities and needs!

I am in a similar position to beautifulgirls where I'm sure most people do not suspect my DD has been diagnosed as on the spectrum unless they also have a child on the spectrum themselves and know what to look for.

In terms of attention as Starlight has mentioned you may need to have a wide range of toys etc... or spend more time than you would with a typical child in terms of playing with them. I probably haven't explained the last part very well but when my DD was 4 years old she used to like running up and down the living room for 10-15 minutes a time 2-3 times a day so I needed to redirect her to other things or sit with her and tell her a story etc..A year on she does still do this but so much less often.
Good luck with the childminding

WilsonFrickett Thu 01-Sep-11 00:03:59

I think you need to meet with the parents and the child and then think 'what does this individual need.'

For example, my DS primary 1 teacher (who we all adored) saw most of the things that made DS life easier as just good teaching practice. Things like a visual timetable, playing music to signal start/end of activities - these are things that work for all children because they take into account various learning styles and sensory preferences.

I think it's brilliant that you want to find out more, but honestly, start with the child and you won't go far wrong.

A secret? 'We' just want someone who will care for our DCs, see their potential and be kind to them. No different from any other parents, really. smile

DraculasMum Thu 01-Sep-11 09:04:30

Thank you so much for all your responses they have been so helpful.

I have arranged to meet the parents next week so I will have lots of questipns for her, I may speak to ofsted and see if they have any lead that I can follow.

Thank you again ladies it is so helpful to get an idea of what I need to learn in depth.

IndigoBell Thu 01-Sep-11 09:46:02

Mild autism traits in a 4 year old doesn't sound like you will have to do a lot of things different.

Yes the child will probably be anxious and hate change and little things like that. But you will very quickly learn to pick up his quirks and how to work round them.

Might be a bit fussy with food or something. But nothing that would make it particularly hard for you to look after him......

Mild autism is nothing like the rainman or whatever you thought autism was like before you meet a few kids smile

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