The initial step in finding someone for your child is to place an advertisement for the position. There are places, like Craig’s list, that you may do this for free. Also, there may be websites that focus specifically on people in the health care industry. If your child receives state assistance, ask the social worker if they have a website or any resources available in your state to help you find a care giver for your child.
After placing an ad, you may have several calls about the position. I find it best to put my email address in the advertisement instead of a phone number, and then respond with a standard email that asks the applicant questions that will help me screen them before I set up an interview. Please look at this post as an indicator of the possible pre-interview questions that you might want to ask.
Over the years I have found that there are many people who love children, but simply don’t do very well with my autistic child. It seems that even if someone has experience working at a daycare or babysitting children the same age, they still may have difficulty handling a young child with autism.
There are several reasons that this type of experience simply isn’t enough of an indicator if they will be a good match. Essentially, they will expect your child to behave a certain way based on their other experience. As an example, my son has had difficulty dealing with some of his care givers because he would lock into a decision. When listening to adults deal with children you often hear “Would you like to go for a walk?” And sometimes the child may say “no.” At which point the adult would continue to try to persuade the child, “But a walk would be soooo much fun, I’ll bet other children are going for a walk!” And this would normally work. With my son, once you ask him if he wants to do something and he says no, trying to talk him into it is a waste of time. In other words, if you need him to go on a walk because you believe that he needs some exercise, you have to say “we are going to go on a walk in five minutes.” If the care giver had just said this from the beginning, he would have been fine. Instead, he is now angry that you asked him what he wanted to do, he told you, and now you are forcing him to do what he told you he didn’t want to do! From his perspective, this is mean. As I have said before in my post Communicating with an Autistic Child, autistic children simply view the world differently than we do so communicating with them is different.
Although experience with children may not be a sufficient indicator if the care giver is going to be good with the child, there are other indicators that have helped me find good help.
1) If the person has spent time dealing one on one with another autistic child.
2) If the person has experience in the health care industry dealing directly with patients.
3) If the person is open minded and somewhat philosophical in their dealings with people.
4) If the person is not easily offended in social situations.
5) If the person has taken any classes involving health care or social services.
6) If the person shares any interests that the child has.
7) If the person is perceptive and will pick up on some of the small cue’s that the autistic child uses to communicate.
With my son, I have found someone who is upbeat and laughs easily does really well with him. This is because my son loves to laugh.
During the interview, I will ask them questions that will help me determine if they have the qualities necessary to be a good fit for my son. I also found it beneficial to have my son there so that I may introduce them to him after the interview was over. I would look to see if they seemed offended if my son didn’t really respond to them when they would say hi. Especially important, is how they watch him. Some people are very perceptive and would watch him closely to try to understand his body language and how he communicates. I have found compassionate and highly perspective people to be the ones that my son most enjoys spending time with.
Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any advice in finding a good care giver!