My husband and I have been fostering for the last 5 years and for most of our time as foster carers we have cared for a young man who is 12 years old and has a diagnosis of autism.
When he came to stay with us, I didn’t really know much about autism. I had heard of it but had no idea of its effects.
I remember not long after he came to live with us we went on holiday and whilst we were on holiday. The change of routine, environment and people must have been too much for him and he had an outburst. At the time I had never seen anyone struggle to manage their emotions in this way and remembered thinking I don’t know if I can manage this.
Throughout the last 5 years we have continued to educate ourselves about autism and the variations of the diagnosis and have worked together to recognise triggers and how to manage them. In a house with 2 other children his bedroom is his safe space. At times the noise and excitement can get a lot, so he now takes himself into his room to have quiet and calm and be in his own company.
I have learnt a lot through speaking with others, attending training offered by Capstone who have supported us and provided me with skills to be able to understand his needs, so I can support him to the best of our ability.
The local authority social worker has also supported us with suggested training that could be beneficial, so the education is ongoing for us as his foster carers and will continue to be.
To support him in a holistic way we work with professionals from school as well as social workers. He currently has an Education Health Care Plan and so receives support from his own allocated teaching assistant who is with him for the duration of his school day.
As his carers we support him mainly with enhancing and developing his social skills as this is something he naturally has difficulty with – he can form friendships but does not maintain friendships well.
In the last 12 months, we have seen him understand himself better and become more responsible for his own actions. When he speaks about his future, he wants to go to university to study and become an archaeologist. We will support him through every stage of his journey. For me, it has been an interesting and educational journey and I’ve been surprised by how vast the Autism Spectrum is, by how many children have a diagnosis of autism, and the thought about your approach to care and support a child who has autism.
Caroline and Tony’s social worker said:
“Caroline and Tony have been committed to develop their knowledge of autism as they recognise that this is in line with meeting the individual needs of the child they care for. They both consider his needs, support with meeting his needs and work with other professionals to ensure that the care he receives continues to support him with his education, health, emotional and social development and well-being.”
Caroline & Tony, Foster Carers, Midlands