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


Our wonderful foster carer Lynne Blencowe has written a guest blog for International Day of Happiness.

Happiness: a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

As a foster carer I usually experience many different emotions throughout the day, but no matter what the day has brought, I always like to end it on a positive note with the beautiful children who are part of our Chosen Family.

When I put the children to bed I always get them to say something specific and wonderful about themselves that has happened, or how they feel about themselves that day. This can be anything including, “I am really proud of myself as I got all of my spellings right”, “I am precious to you”, “I am beautiful and have beautiful skin.” I then tell them 5 positive things about themselves or what they have done that day. These might be, “I really loved that cup of coffee you made for me today – it was just what I wanted” or “Thank you for reading to me so beautifully today – I loved the expression you used – you are a great reader” or “You made me really laugh today when you told me that funny story of what happened at school”

To find 5 positive things to say to a child or young person when everything is going well is easy to do. What’s harder is finding those things when times are tough – but often that is when it is most important and meaningful. For me, I find it can be extremely useful in the prevention of Blocked Care which Dan Hughes and Jonathan Baylin describe in their book, “Brain based parenting” as:

Blocked Care (the stressed-out survival-based brain mode). Blocked care’ describes ‘how stress can suppress a well-meaning parent’s capacity to sustain loving feelings and empathy towards his or her child’. It stems from a need for self-protection and defensiveness and fosters a reactive style of parenting that is narrowly focussed on the immediate behaviour and most negative aspects of the child. In blocked care there is a tendency to overreact to a child’s nonverbal communication; nonverbal communications are processed faster than verbal communications and therefore blocks verbal communication. Blocked care has a tendency to be judgemental

Some young people, especially teenagers, in my experience, find it very difficult to accept praise, so on occasions I have shouted messages through the bedroom door at night – “By the way – I loved the way you did your hair in that up-do style” and I have received the response, “**** **”” but a few days later I have been asked, “Did you really like my hair the other day?” So – they are always listening and taking in what you say – even if they pretend not to!

If at all possible, the only way for me to end each and every day, particularly on the International Day of Happiness, is with positive and pleasant emotions both for myself and the children I love. Maybe give it a try?

Happy International Day of Happiness.


We said goodbye to Deb L on Friday. Deb’s said “The last 18 months at Capstone have been great. During my time at Capstone I have met some amazing, caring staff members and fabulous carers.

Capstone staff genuinely care which is the key to finding caring and compassionate foster carers. I personally will miss all of my colleagues especially my team:

  • Ally who was my right hand
  • Debi who loves my tea
  • Manisha who is the private investigator of the office
  • Emma who says it as it is
  • Sunjay high up in the running for best dressed
  • Kelly and her excitable, fun personality!
  • James who eats everything in sight
  • Jodie best new comer
  • Thank you to Sara and Alison for giving me the opportunity to join the Capstone Family.

Capstone Midlands add smiles and laughter to the office, even throughout the hard times of the fostering industry. The staff maintain professionalism and great work ethics at all times. Carers, keep up the inspiring work that you do making a difference and changing lives.

As one chapter closes another one opens.

Farewell…

 

 


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