Providing foster care for children and young people suffering from autism can be challenging. Awareness is key to shaping attitudes, as well as shifting the general debate in a positive direction. For this reason, Rainbow fostering will be at this year’s Autism Show – The National Event for Autism – which is being held in London, Birmingham and Manchester this month. In the spirit of working with others to raise awareness, we are featuring a series of Blogs on autism. The aim is to take an occasional look at the subject from a more oblique angle – as the following blog does. And, more conventionally, Afshan Ahmad, Rainbow Fostering Services Director, will be making a presentation on the subject of ‘Autism and Fostering’ at upcoming shows being held in Birmingham and Manchester.
Art: no longer simply art for art’s sake?
One of the enduring debates, it has seemed, is what is the purpose of art. In a contemporary sense, this question has lost some of its intensity and power to divide opinion. The general public has got used to piles of bricks and unmade beds as representing the art of our times. This could well be bad news, for controversy could usually be relied upon to attract attention. And no artist like to be ignored. But with a new and remarkable short film made by Charlotte Amelia Poe winning an award to recognise artists on the autistic spectrum, we have, potentially a newly energised impetus for the creation of art. Works brought into existence to directly communicate a fundamental aspect of the artist themselves: in this case autism. What is interesting is the crossing of boundaries that takes place. There has been a long tradition of health education, advertising on posters, radio and television – covering all issues – but to locate a condition firmly in the sphere of ‘Art’, is perhaps a little more unusual: at least in the minds of a general public more used to the more ‘well trodden’ paths of communication around such subjects. This is not without precedent, there are many disabled artists at work, and initiatives to support them. The British Council, through a European wide arts programme, has focused on disability – making the arts more accessible to those with disabilities – as well as supporting disabled artists. Alongside this, the work of ‘Unlimited’; for example, – an arts commissioning programme facilitating new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences – assist artworks to attract the attention of the mainstream. DaDaFest is another organisation, with roots as far back as 1990, that has an impressive pedigree striving for the rights of the disabled to both gain access to, and participate in the Arts.
So it is heartening that Charlotte Amelia Poe has, by winning the inaugural ‘Spectrum Art Prize’; announced at the renowned Saatchi Gallery, placed autism firmly on the agenda. The work: a six minute video produced in black and white has the artist crying whilst talking about being autistic. indeed, Turner prize-winner Mark Wallinger, one of the judges, described the video as both “unforgettable” and “The most explicit expression of having that condition. I have never heard it quite articulated like that.”
Spectrum, which is the south west’s leading charity for autism, will be further supporting Poe as she aims to produce a book expanding upon the text of the film. This will not be exclusively for people with autism, but for everyone who slips through society’s safety net. In Poe’s list this includes (one imagines for starters), folk from the LGBT community, people suffering deprivation of one sort or another, people of colour – as well as individuals with mental health issues. From this perspective, these groups resemble a congeries of related interests which could all be ripe for such video treatment. Her direction of travel may be further imagined as her piece to camera was inspired by the feminist writer and YouTuber Savannah Brown, whose award-winning collection of poetry (self published) saw her shortlisted for the Goodreads Choice award 2016.
Art for our times
Art has never been neutral. It has been used through history to proselytise and propagandise. What is so encouraging about the prize won by Charlotte Amelia Poe, is that in this guise, art demonstrates the potential to inform the rest of us about what it feels like to be autistic. This should be celebrated. Building such knowledge can have significant benefits; not least demystifying a condition so that people might consider fostering a child with autism. The particular accomplishment of this artist is that her message, by not being esoteric or abstruse, communicates in plain fashion what it is to be autistic.
Providing therapeutic foster care for a child on the autistic spectrum?
Could you foster therapeutically and care for a child with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)? Therapeutic foster carers report looking after children with ASD can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. But what is a therapeutic foster carer exactly? And how much help might I get if I decide upon this area of fostering? Then there are terms which at first might seem confusing such as therapeutic fostering models; therapeutic fostering courses; training for therapeutic foster care – as well as the chance to get a certificate in therapeutic fostering.
If I foster, what can I expect of a child with ASD?
Basically children with ASD experience the world in a way that is different from other children. The kind of foster care they receive depends upon the severity of their disorder. As a general rule, ASD children like rigid routines. They cope badly with novelty and spontaneity. Training to be a therapeutic foster carer will enable you to learn about all the different considerations that need to be taken into account when providing day to day care. Call Rainbow on 020 8427 3355 – or you can also call our National Line on 0330 311 2845. Plenty of advice and guidance is freely available from our recruitment specialists covering all aspects of foster care.
Good news at the end of this Rainbow…look out for more news of our 2018 Summer reading competition. Book vouchers to be claimed fore the best reviews we get from our young readers!
For the latest Rainbow foster care news –
Welcome news for foster parents: call for more support for those leaving care
11th June, 2018
A government advisory body has said that there must be improvements to the support given to care leavers. They also recommended that the system of paying benefits to care leavers should be simplified. The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has produced a report which looked into young people living independently. It found that housing problems are