Parents of children with Autism- what do you think are the necessary skills/qualities etc for someone to look after your child?
I have been interested in Autism for a while. I study Psychology at University and this year decided to quit my retail job and start working at a local school (between semesters) for children and young people (ages 4-19) who are autistic. Recently I took on some more work: working with an autistic boy who is 11. Working at the school has taught me a lot, yes, but I found myself not knowing whether what I was doing was good/bad/improvable. After asking for it, I received (pretty vague) feedback telling me that I was doing well. Now, working with an individual on a 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 basis, I've found myself in a similar position. I don't know what his parents expect of me/us and the only guidance we were given was 'don't give him too many sugary things to eat'.
We take him out for 3-4 hours at a time. Usually parks and nature reserves, where it is not crowded and we can avoid situations involving other children and other parents (who are often not very understanding of autism). The carer who looked after him before us also gave us very little guidance.
Whilst working I find myself thinking:
- Do his parents expect us to help guide him with social skills and interaction? Or are we just looking after him for their ease so they can get on with working etc? His parents occasionally say 'so where are you taking him today' and have *never* given us any suggestions of where to take him.
- Are his parents looking to us for guidance on how to handle his behaviour? Or do we learn from them? Who is learning from who? They seem as though they don't have a lot of understanding of autism and often struggle themselves.
- When working with him at his home, do his parents mind us telling him what to do?
- Do they have some kind of 'protocol' in handling him when he becomes upset? Obviously initiative is key- don't let him get into a situation where he or someone else can be hurt.
- How do we deal with people who are often not very understanding of his behaviour? He lacks spatial awareness and often walks straight through people to get to whatever he is interested in and often bumps into people on the way. We were shopping and he bumped into a woman and she told us to F off even after apologising. Could anyone advise us on this?
I understand that these are questions that only the parents can answer- but they are not particularly easy to talk to and are always very busy with other things. So, bearing these things in mind - what do you look for in someone who is caring for your son or daughter - could you describe the ideal person?
Many thanks, and sorry for the long post!