While parenting is certainly a full-time job, there will be those times where parents will need a break. Whether it’s for the occasional night out or a regular consistent work schedule, parents want care for their children that will be reliable, caring, and safe. Each parent is wise to be somewhat choosy with the care they end up picking for their child. Parents of children on the autism spectrum often have an added level of difficulty finding care that works best. This task may seem intimidating, but by turning to the right resources and taking intentional steps, it will prove to not be an impossible endeavor.
A crucial step to complete if you are seeking a daycare option is to determine whether your child would be best in a traditional daycare, or a special needs daycare. Traditional daycares aren’t allowed to outright deny special needs children, but they can conduct assessments to determine if reasonable accommodations can be made. The best fit is often found when parents focus on listing the child’s strengths to the daycare workers rather than focusing on any deficits.
Turning to trusted sources will be the next step to take. If you have friends or connections to parents who have autistic children, they can often help steer you in the right directions. Each child is different, however, so this alone will not determine which daycare option is best for your child. You can also turn to local agencies that offer assistance for Autism and similar issues or state human services websites for further guidance.
Once you get some leads for potential daycares, it’s time to schedule a visit. Some clues can even be gathered from your call that may narrow down your list. If the hours are inconvenient or if answers about policies or safety seem ambiguous, it may be best to scrap that option. Upon visiting an actual daycare, you want to look for upbeat, knowledgeable workers, who are getting on the kids’ levels to have fun and interact with them. Be sure to talk to more than one staff member, and don’t shy away from tough questions about how they would handle specific situations that may arise. The facility itself should be spacious, clean, and free of hazards or ways for children to wander off. It’s also best to make a second, unscheduled visit to see how things run when people drop by unexpectedly.
Another great option to consider instead of daycare is hiring a nanny. While this may be a bit pricier than daycare options, it can be very worth it if it is within your means. You can find nannies that are specifically knowledgeable and trained to care for children with ASD that you can find on Care.com or by other searches. If you take this route, be sure to ask for a decent time commitment, ensure they can stay consistent with your parenting style, and that your child connects with them.
When choosing the childcare option that is optimal for your family, don’t be afraid to trust your gut if an option doesn’t feel right. Even if you can’t always be with your child, you will always know them best. If you use your best judgment, take initiative to seek out reliable resources, and keep your child’s needs at the forefront of your mind, you will find the right childcare fit in no time.
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