Reducing the Stress of Choosing a Babysitter
It can be a challenge for parents who have a child with autism to hire a babysitter. For many of these parents, a simple trip to the grocery store, post office, or dinner at a restaurant can be overwhelming. With a little research and planning, you might find yourself out and about with fewer worries.
Choosing a babysitter for your special needs child goes beyond a typical babysitter search. Parents need to develop their own list of questions that pertain to the child, on top of checking resumes and references (Katherine, 2011). In doing so, babysitters will not be surprised by any behaviors that may occur and you will feel more comfortable that they are capable of handling various situations (Katherine, 2011). During an interview, give potential babysitters real scenarios and ask them what their response would be. Also, be sure to explain your family’s current procedures for particular behaviors, for example: tantrums, aggression, or elopement (Katherine, 2011).
It is important that you give potential babysitters a rundown of your child’s preferences, for instance, if your child does not like to be touched or guided physically, show them how to successfully guide them (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.). Another example may be that certain words or tones tend to offset your child, so explain to the potential sitter what this looks like (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.).
After you have narrowed your search, make sure your child meets their potential babysitter. This will give you insight into how your child responds to the sitter and vice versa.
Before you leave…
Have the sitter come early to spend time with you and your child, so you can help if any problems arise as your child adjusts to the babysitter (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.). Be sure to break the evening/day down, so the routine remains the same as much as possible (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.). Also, have the sitter “pair” (lots of free reinforcement to help increase your child’s compliance) with your child. Leave contact information for your sitter, including: cell phone number, restaurant name/number, secondary emergency contact, and pediatrician’s number (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.).
Encourage the babysitter to call/text you throughout the evening, this will reassure both of you that everything is running smoothly (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.). If a problem does arise, you will be able to give suggestions to deescalate problem situations (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.). Remember, you know your child best, so give the babysitter any tips that you know will work in order to help the evening run smoothly (“10 Tips for Babysitters”, n.d.).
Katherine, 2012 suggests using the following interview questions:
-Does the babysitter have any formal education that pertains to autism? If she does not have any, what does she know about it? What are her expectations? It is important that the babysitter you hire has some knowledge about autism, so that she will know how to take care of your child.
-What is her experience with autistic children? Has she worked with them before, or is this going to be her first time? If she has worked with autistic children before, what was her scope of work and what can she say about her experience? Did she like it? Did she have any difficulty? You may also ask if she is able to provide references.
-How is she going to address certain situations? Provide some real or hypothetical situations and see how she would handle the issue. What would she do to prevent issues from coming up? In the event that your child wishes to do something which is against the households or something which will hurt your child, how would she handle it? Are you comfortable with the way she answered?
Katherine. (2011, June 1). Finding a Babysitter for your autistic child. Retrieved from http://www.autismunited.org/blog/finding-a-babysitter-for-your-autistic-child-80323.html
Katherine. (2012, February 17). What to look for when interviewing a babysitter for your autistic child. Retrieved from http://www.autismunited.org/blog/what-to-look-for-when-interviewing-a-babysitter-for-your-autistic-child-80792.html
10 tips for babysitters caring for autistic children. Retrieved from http://www.babysitters.net/babysitting-for-autistic-children/