Being responsible for the care of someone with autism is often demanding, requires plenty of patience, but can also be extremely rewarding. You’ll be in a position to see the real person behind the condition, learn to understand their specific needs, and form a relationship that allows them to get the most out of their life in a world that can often appear strange, scary and confusing.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which mean people who have been diagnosed with this condition will be affected in different ways – though many of them will share the same difficulties. For instance, some autistic people may also have learning disabilities, emotional problems and mental health issues – and this will affect the kind of support they will need from you. So here are some tips for getting the most out of your autism care career.
Communication. Many autistic people find it hard to filter out less important information when you talk to them, and this can often cause them stress and anxiety. If you’re sensing this, speak slower. Don’t be afraid to repeat your key point, and pause between sentences.
Use their name when you start talking to them. This will help them understand you’re talking to them. If they’re engaged in an activity, or have a specific interest, use this as a starting point for a conversation, as this may encourage them to open up to you.
Predictability. Finding a comfortable routine is vital for helping an autistic person enjoy their life. Being able to anticipate what they will be doing that day, week or even month will help them relax and be at ease. Sudden changes of plans may cause an autistic person to become upset and panick. Of course, sometimes plans do have to change, and that’s out of your control, but in general, it’s best to stick to a familiar routine that’s agreed between the two of you. The same goes for ‘nice’ surprises. Even if you’ve got a fun thing planned, it may not be well received if there isn’t plenty of time to prepare first.
Learn to recognise what causes them stress. Everyone experiences stress at different times in their life, and autistic people are no different. When they do become stressed, they often find it difficult to relax. It can be worth getting to know what interests or activities they find calming. They may like to do a deep breathing exercise, for example, when tension builds up. If possible, get them to write down a list of what activities or tasks cause them most stress, and what activities they enjoy doing, and this will help you find ways to make the more stressful activities easier for them. For instance, if they find getting on buses stressful, but they find comfort in squeezing a stress ball, make sure they have their stress ball handy when they’re required to get the bus.
Dealing with transitions. Changes in lifestyle, such as moving house, starting a new voluntary job or attending a new social group can be particularly difficult for autistic people. If such a transition is on the horizon, it’s best to make sure they’re aware of it in plenty of time. You could mark the date on their diary or wall calendar, for example. And when the time comes, it’s best to minimise the amount of time the transition takes. If possible, try and give them some continuity during the transition. For instance, if they’re moving from a family caregiver’s house into carer supported accommodation, decorate their new room with the same posters they had on their old walls.
CRG Homecare help you care
As a nationwide homecare provider, we’ve got plenty of vacancies for talented care workers like you. Find a job near you on our job search page today.