Choosing a Babysitter: The Less Stressful Way

babysitterSubmitted by: Christi Martin

Deciding to hire a babysitter and go out for dinner, run errands, or even just grocery shopping can create much anxiety. With a little bit of research and planning, you might find yourself out and about with fewer worries.

Choosing a babysitter for your special needs child goes beyond, typical babysitter search. On top of resumes and references, you need to develop your own list of questions that pertain to your child specifically (See suggestions below). This way, they aren’t surprised by any behaviors that may occur and you will know how they plan to handle various situations. With that being said, don’t be shy to give real scenarios and ask them what they would do. Be sure to explain to them your family’s current procedures when certain behaviors occur, etc. tantrums, aggression, elopement. ( June1)

Give them a rundown of what your child prefers and doesn’t prefer. For instance, if you child does not like to be touched or guided physically, then give them tips on other ways to guide your child. If certain words or tones tend to offset your child, explain in detail to the potential sitter what this looks like. (

After you’ve narrowed your search, make sure your child meets the potential sitter. 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 your child while you’re there. So you can help if anything comes up or need to make suggestions as you see your kiddo adjust to the babysitter. Break the evening/day down, so the routine remains the same as much as possible. Have the sitter “pair”, in other words lots of free reinforcement to help increase your child’s compliance. Leave contact information for your sitter, this includes: cell phone, restaurant name/number, secondary emergency contact, and pediatrician; in the event an emergency occurs. (

Checking in?

Encourage the babysitter to call/text you throughout. This will reassure both of you that everything is on track and everyone’s safe. If a problem does occurs, you might be able to give suggestions over the phone that helps relieve any possible stressful situations from heightening. Remember, you know your child best so don’t forget to give the babysitter any little tricks that you know work to help the evening run smoothly. (

Katherine at suggests using the following interview questions:

  • Does she have any formal education on 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 knows 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 can 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 it? (AutismUnited.orgJune17)