All parents want their child’s babysitters to be well prepared – able to keep their child entertained, handle the after-school or bedtime routine and deal with whatever challenges or emergencies might come up. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, there’s a new online tool available to help prepare sitters for the unique challenge of caring for these special kids.
Available from the Institute for Behavioral Training (IBT), the package includes a 55-minute classroom-style video called “Caring For Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders,” a 20-minute video called “Babysitting Children and Teens With Autism” and a printable 42-page manual including room for student notes.
“Babysitting Children and Teens With Autism” follows a babysitter through some interactions caring for a child with the special needs associated with ASD. While stressing that each individual with autism is unique, the video gives a basic explanation of the diagnosis and describes many characteristics and challenges a sitter might encounter when caring for a person on the spectrum. Communication challenges, stimming behaviors, tantrums and skill deficits are all covered. The sitter in the video explains that people with autism might need assistance with tasks such as dressing or brushing their teeth, and that some have difficulty seeing things from another person’s point of view.
There is a discussion of Applied Behavior Analysis, and how a sitter might support a family that is using ABA with their child. Consistency is emphasized, as is the importance of being proactive.
The video also lists several questions for babysitters to ask caregivers before sitting for a child with autism. These would apply to any child, but are especially important for children on the spectrum:
- Does the child have behaviors I should be aware of, or that might surprise me?
- Does the child have any dietary restrictions? (GFCF and sugar-free diets, and food allergies, are also discussed.)
- What is the child’s routine and what tasks might he or she need help with?
The importance of choosing comfortable clothing, pulling back long hair, avoiding dangling earrings and other jewelry, and other safety issues (pools, pets, escape routes) are also discussed. And sitters are advised to gather emergency contact information.
The video also includes tips for making the experience more fun for the sitter and the child. Being engaged with the child the whole time, planning a schedule and bringing a special toy or activity can all help with this. And keeping a cool head and a list of calming activities can help a sitter and child over some of the rough spots.
“Caring For Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders” is a more in-depth look at the topics covered in the babysitter video, featuring a speaker and PowerPoint-style presentation.
The training, available for $25 at www.ibehavioraltraining.com/IBT/DirectStaff-Babysitter.aspx, would be a great help to any sitter hoping to care for a child on the autism spectrum, and especially useful for friends and family members who might be visiting during the holidays and hoping to pitch in with childcare help.