Foster care: develop an understanding of autism

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Foster care: develop an understanding of autism

Understanding Autism better

Foster care and the challenges of Autism

Rainbow foster care services will be having a presence at this year’s Autism Show – The National Event for Autism – which is being held in London, Birmingham and Manchester this June. Afshan Ahmad, Rainbow Fostering Services Director, will be making a speech on the subject of ‘Autism and Fostering’ at the Birmingham and Manchester shows. In the run up to these presentations, we will be producing a series of Blogs covering aspects of this important are of foster care.

Autism explained for foster carers

Autism is a developmental disability that is lifelong. It affects how people relate to and communicate with other people. It also affects the experiences they have of the world around them. It is common for autism to be diagnosed along with other related conditions. One of these is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD affects people’s day to day lives – school and work – as well as relationships with others. People who have ADHD experience difficulties with inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Some individuals with the condition experience difficulties that may occur in just one of these two areas. ADHD has a tendency to run in most families with a diagnosis usually being between six and twelve years of age.

Another related condition finds some people with autism experiencing sensory processing difficulties. If you provide foster care for someone who is sensitive to noise, a hearing test should be arranged via your GP. Some individuals have a dual diagnosis of autism and Down’s syndrome. This syndrome causes delays in development and learning. Generally, children who have this lifelong condition will meet their developmental milestones later on. Like many people on the autism spectrum, they can find it easier to learn visually. Dyslexia can also be a related condition. This is a lifelong condition which can affect the development of literacy and language. In terms of its consequences, it can impact upon the way information is stored, processed and retrieved by the brain. This affects the speed of processing and organisation of information. Dyspraxia, Epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome, Hyperlexia, Learning disabilities and Social Communication Disorder are also a range of conditions that can be related with Autism:

  • Dyspraxia: this condition is considered to be caused by the manner in which information is processed by the brain. Messages may not be properly transmitted. This impacts upon the way a person plans for actions to be taken and how they are to be brought about. The condition can also interfere with language, thought and perception. It is not uncommon for people with problems of motor co-ordination and if this is the case Dyspraxia may be diagnosed.
  • Epilepsy: this is a condition which results in an individual experiencing seizures that start in the brain. Roughly 1 in every 100 people have Epilepsy and it is a condition that can affect people at any age. People with Autism are at an increased risk of this condition and research indicates that between 20% and 40% have Epilepsy.
  • Learning disabilities: people with Autism can experience differing degrees of learning disability. This can have a wide range of effects impacting on progress at school – as well as managing to cope with everyday tasks such as getting dressed, making a meal or washing. Some individuals are able to lead reasonably independent lives, some may need specialist support all their lives.
  • Social Communication Disorder: someone exhibiting this disorder presents difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication. Such problems are unable to be explained below cognitive ability. People can make inappropriate responses when in conversation and often struggle with spoken and written language. This can impact on academic achievement, work performance as well as social relationships.
  • Visual impairment: when this occurs in combination with Autism, the affects can be greater as the difficulties posed by both disabilities interact with each other.
  • Fragile X Syndrome: this, the most common cause of inherited learning disability affects 1 in 4,000 boys or men and then 1 in 6,000 girls or women. Here speech and language development can be adversely affected. People with Fragile X may also suffer from anxiety in social situations. The physical affects can include avoidance of eye contact, problems in relation to people, hand waving, hand biting and repetitive speech. These can be similar problems Autistic people may experience, but Fragile X Syndrome is a separate diagnosis.
  • Hyperlaxia: this condition shows up when people display an intense fascination with letters or numbers. In younger people this can also manifest itself in the ability to read far beyond their age. Such individuals may still experience difficulty comprehending verbal language. They may also have problems socialising and interacting with others.

Have you the skills to become a therapeutic foster carer?

Foster care has seen many changes in  a few short years: this means there are now even more questions for a potential applicant to reflect on. If you research into foster care, you will quickly find an important new term – the ‘therapeutic’ foster carer. What exactly is such a carer? And how much help might I get if I decide to train to become one? You’ll also probably come up against terms such as therapeutic fostering models; therapeutic fostering courses; training for therapeutic foster care and even a certificate in therapeutic fostering. The list seems to go on. The best course of action is to relax and contact one of our specialist recruiters on 020 8427 3355 – or you can call our National Line on 0330 311 2845. They will give you plenty of reassurance so you can make a better informed decision by having a better understanding of what therapeutic foster care involves.

Catch up on all the news stories about foster care in the UK and beyond

8,000 new foster care homes needed in the UK in 2018

29th May, 2018

The leading charity, the Fostering Network, has announced that more than 8,000 new foster families are needed this year to make sure; as they put it – “all fostered children can be found the right foster home first time”. The need is particularly urgent with regard to placing siblings and teenagers.

These latest figures, published on the first day of the charity’s ‘Foster Care Fortnight’ indicate that 6,800 foster families are (more)

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