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5 ways to help an autistic child

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What is autism?

Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental condition impacting communication, social interaction, and behaviour. It is characterised by a diverse range of symptoms, which can vary in intensity and prevalence, hence earning its classification as a "spectrum" condition.

The fundamental features of ASC encompass challenges in social interaction, including difficulties with making eye contact, expressing emotions, and interpreting nonverbal cues. Individuals on the autism spectrum frequently encounter obstacles in language development, both in terms of expression and comprehension. Additionally, repetitive & restrictive behaviours (RRBs), such as hand flapping or arranging objects in specific patterns, alongside adherence to rigid routines or fixation on particular interests, are prevalent traits of autism.

While these characteristics are common among individuals with ASC, they manifest diversely, resulting in significant variability in how autism manifests in different individuals. Some autistic individuals may demonstrate remarkable abilities in specific domains like mathematics, music, or visual cognition, while others may encounter difficulties in routine daily tasks.

From processing sensory stimuli to comprehending speech and language, autistic individuals perceive and engage with the world in distinct ways compared to neurotypical individuals. However, through early detection, intervention, and appropriate support, they can lead fulfilling, content, and successful lives.

5 ways to help an autistic child

Caring for an autistic young person who has experienced hardship in their early life will naturally come with challenges, but by putting the right measures in place and understanding their needs, you can help them thrive. Foster carers should respect the unique needs of their child or young person and be prepared to adapt, be patient and be open to learning to cater to their needs. By embracing and accommodating these differences, and with the assistance of our team at Nexus Fostering, you can cultivate an inclusive and nurturing environment.

Understand their behaviours

Foster carers need to be ready to comprehend and handle difficult behaviours that might occur while caring for a child with autism. Autistic children may encounter challenges in self-regulation and might exhibit actions like severe tantrums (referred to as autistic meltdowns) and self-harm when they feel overwhelmed or struggle to express their needs. To address these behaviours effectively, it's crucial to foster a calm and supportive atmosphere, recognise triggers that could provoke challenging behaviours, and employ tactics to either prevent or alleviate an autistic meltdown.

Create a trusting relationship

Establishing trust with an autistic child or young person may require patience, yet it's indispensable for their welfare. Trust can be nurtured by demonstrating consistency, dependability, and responsiveness to the child's requirements. This entails honouring promises, offering encouragement, and exhibiting patience and encouragement. It's essential to proceed at the child's pace and be attuned to their cues, as they may struggle to articulate their comfort levels, especially when it comes to attempting new experiences.

Create a structured environment

Autistic children often flourish in organised settings characterized by explicit routines and schedules. Foster carers play a crucial role in establishing this structure by establishing precise rules and limits, implementing a predictable daily schedule, and offering a tranquil and consistent atmosphere. It's beneficial to incorporate practices such as consistent mealtimes, designated family dinners on particular days, following a consistent route to school, and designating specific areas in the home for various activities.

Advocate for the support & services they need

Foster carers serve as essential advocates for securing services and assistance for autistic children and young people. By joining as a foster carer with Nexus Fostering, you'll have a support network comprising of childcare experts such as therapists and a committed supervising social worker. This team ensures that the children under your care receive appropriate services and support tailored to their needs.

Help develop communication skills

Many autistic children and young people encounter challenges in communication, underscoring the pivotal role of foster carers in fostering their communication abilities. This may entail employing straightforward and concise language, integrating visual aids such as cue cards, and facilitating opportunities for the child to refine their communication skills within a secure and encouraging setting. An effective strategy involves consistently employing concrete language to prevent misunderstandings.

Fostering a child with autism

At Nexus Fostering, we need foster carers to come forward to give children and young people with autism the support and stability they desperately need. Some of these children will have experienced neglect or abuse, potentially even because of their autism, while others may have parents who aren’t in a position to or aren’t capable of meeting their unique needs.

When you do therapeutic fostering, we completely understand the level of work and commitment it takes. That’s why at Nexus Fostering we take a therapeutic approach to fostering and with our dedicated team of professionals we will give you the support and skills you need to succeed as a foster carer. Apply here to start your journey and become a foster carer with Nexus Fostering.


Fostering insights


  • Foster Carer
  • Therapeutic
  • Young person
  • Support
  • Training

Date published

02 April 2024

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