Autism show presentation 2013


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  • Autism show presentation 2013

    1. 1. Foster care and Autism Philip Heslop Philip Heslop
    2. 2. Exercise What is foster care? How do children with an ASC experience foster care? How can we improve the service for children and foster carers? Philip Heslop
    3. 3. My experience I am: • Father of a son with an ASC • Qualified and registered social worker and qualified teacher • Regional Councillor on the NAS national council • NAS member and member of the management committee for Tyneside and Gateshead NAS support group • Trustee with Gateshead Autism Group • Coordinate fathers groups with Daisy chain and NAS • Fostering Manager Orchard Care • Previously Secretary NAS Tyne and Wear foster carers support group and member of the Fostering Network’s Steering committee on fostering children with a disability Philip Heslop
    4. 4. Defining Foster Care • Foster care in Britain is a state regulated activity for children deemed unable, for whatever reason, to reside with their birth family. Fostered children are looked after by approved fostering families (Department of Education, 2011). • Fostering means that the child or young person remains the legal responsibility of the local authority and/or their birth parents. This is different to adoption, where the legal rights of a child are permanently transferred to their adoptive parents. Philip Heslop
    5. 5. Autism Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. Children and adults with autism have difficulties with everyday social interaction. Children with an ASC may find it difficult to develop friendships and relationships. Children with an ASC can find foster care to be a very difficult experience. Philip Heslop
    6. 6. Statistically • There are many people with an ASC in the UK and it is understood that about 1 out of every 100 people is on the spectrum. • Estimates are that the figure is nearer to 1:77 ratio with USA reporting instances of 1:50 • Autism is sometimes called a hidden disability and can go unrecognised in foster care. • Childhood is important to us all and stays with us all throughout life. Philip Heslop
    7. 7. Fostered Children • There are nearly 60,000 children who live with foster families across the UK (the Fostering Network, 2013). • For some, it will be a short stay before returning home or being adopted. For others, it will be longterm until they move into independence. • A conservative estimate is that there are approximately 600-1000 children with an ASC in foster carer. • I think the actual figure will be at least double this estimate. Philip Heslop
    8. 8. My experience • As a practitioner I have often thought about how a child with an ASC could cope in public care and whether or not their needs are going unmet. • By definition they are living away from their parental home. • They undergo much change through fostering and their needs can be misdiagnosed with autism being hidden. Philip Heslop
    9. 9. Children are... • Fostered children with an ASC are children who require positive childhood and family experiences, the same as any other child. • There is a gap in services targeted to meet the distinct and individual needs of fostered children with an ASC. • This is both a matter of positive childcare experiences and equality. Philip Heslop
    10. 10. Autism and Foster Care • You may well think there is loads of information, but there isn’t • Google search brings up few resources. • Data base search of academic journals (5/5/13 Web of Knowledge) showed nothing. • Very few organisations specialise in supporting foster carers to look after children with an ASC. • Therefore services are variable and reliant on good fortune. • This is a matter of discrimination as needs go unmet Philip Heslop
    11. 11. Adversities • Children in foster care experience a range of adversities. • They may have experienced maltreatment and the destabilizing effect of living with a substitute family. • There is a tendency for children to experience a multitude of different placements (it is not unusual for children to have three or more carers in a year). • Children's behaviour can generally be misunderstood and labeled as naughty. Philip Heslop
    12. 12. Misunderstood • The presenting behaviours of children in public care may be automatically (and often correctly) attributed to an attachment disorder or trauma rather than look at an ASC diagnosis. • It is also to be expected that traumatic behavioural responses arise from distressing events or for children to transfer negative emotional feelings onto a foster carer and present problematic behaviours due to maltreatment. • A child with an ASC may find themselves lost and confused as they move between foster placements. Philip Heslop
    13. 13. Adversities and ASC • Alongside the ASC a fostered child will have a range of adversities including attachment dysfunction, trauma, bereavement and the other range of adversities fostered children experience. • Importantly a child with an ASC experiences a whole range of adversities associated with autism and the intervention strategies to look after an autistic child are different to those required for fostered children without an ASC. • The adult carer has to provide order and stability for a child with an ASC – but can’t if they don’t know about autism, particularly should the child not have a diagnosis. Philip Heslop
    14. 14. A Young Person’s Profile Sally was diagnosed with an ASC whilst in her teens due largely to the perseverance of her carer; her extreme behaviour had been seen as trauma and attachment difficulties, due to her infant maltreatment, (including sexual abuse). Prior to the diagnosis she experienced multiple placement breakdowns and was clearly an unhappy little girl. Philip Heslop
    15. 15. Michael’s experience • Michael has been diagnosed with classic Kanner’s autism and was matched with a foster carer who had expressed an interest in looking after a child with an ASC. • The social workers, who don’t have specialist training or experience, often query how the carer manages to look after Michael. • His foster carer thought this was an annoying question as it shows how little they understood about autism. Philip Heslop
    16. 16. Positives • As a father I know there are many positives associated with autism. A dad explained to me he always has something to do with son. • Parents describe having a disabled child as a positive life changing and affirming experience as they become more sensitive and aware of others. • Families with a member on the spectrum evolve family practices and routines around autism – that work. I believe this is much more pronounced than is usual in a family without an autistic member. Philip Heslop
    17. 17. Fostering • I have worked with many foster carers and have seen how some claim children with an ASC far more readily than I find usual in fostering. • I have seen fostering families adapt in very much the same way as birth families so that they are able to care for the child with an ASC. • I have also seen professional support struggle to recognise this shift in fostering. • Autism also provides an explanation from which to understand the child, it can also suggest ways of caring that are not understood by many professionals who don’t have specialist knowledge about autism. Philip Heslop
    18. 18. A foster carer’s profile • Burt is the main carer for Chris, who is aged 4 and he is on the spectrum. Chris is doubly incontinent and nonverbal. Burt has cared for Chris for just under a year. • Chris is very attached to Burt and he describes himself as his carer, protector and play mate. • Burt is attached to Chris and his family is adapting to meet his needs. They see Chris as a little boy, and though they recognise his autism they don’t see this as too important as they feel it is not his biggest hurdle. • Chris has very complex needs far beyond a usual child in foster care. Philip Heslop
    19. 19. Anne’ experience • Anne is a single woman who fosters. She has looked after Assad since he was a baby. He has been described as having very complex needs associated with his autism. • Anne is his long-term foster carer and he has lived her for ten years. • While professionals commend Anne she has found it hard to get the right support as she sees Assad as a family member. • Anne does not have parental responsibility and at times she has been in conflict with professionals as she always seeks the best for Assad. Philip Heslop
    20. 20. Fostering a child with ASC Looking after a child with autism is not only difficult but also very rewarding. Yes it can be stressful and each day is different. It can be difficult for anyone not living with an autistic person to understand, so we have set up our own specialist service. We find it helps to have specialist support and training for carers and children. Through this service we can share our experiences of caring for autistic children and raise our awareness of the issues. Philip Heslop
    21. 21. Contact If you would like to know more please contact: Telephone: 07826529683 Email: Philip Heslop
    22. 22. Any Questions Thank you for your time Philip Heslop