Childminder from France.
Tell us about your experience and needs working with autistic children and dealing with caring issues
During my carrier, I had to take care of a three-months old baby boy. I have noticed very soon that he had a defining feature compared to a so called ‘regular’ child. Indeed, there was no interaction when playing peekaboo for example, the baby did not react to his name and his smile was evasive. During the day, the baby boy remained mostly seated in his little bubble, apart from the other kids to the point of protecting himself when another child was approaching him. Often, the baby boy played with a toy for an hour without worrying about the noisy environment or the children of his age. So, I informed the mother and shared my doubts with her. My role was to listen and confirm my observations. Consequently, I advised her to consult on this matter with a doctor, a nursery nurse or a paediatrician. Since I am not in the position of making a diagnosis, I called on the PMI (the French institution for maternal and child protection) in order to be assisted and to help me confirm the defining features of the child. From then on, a process of different consultations with professionals was set up around baby’s 18th month. We also worked together with the parents in order to provide the child with the most appropriate care.
I had to stimulate him (but not from over-stimulation to imitation), capture his gaze as much as possible, include him in the group with caution and confront him with squabbles and other children’s voices. Working with a pictogram had a positive effect on the child and it also benefited the other children that I take care of. Progressively, the contact with the child was made through the sign language, which was impossible to achieve at the very beginning. He was able to quickly reproduce the signs, which allowed him to communicate more serenely with me and the other kids. I had to meet his basic needs just like for the others (sleep, food, emotions and love, security, establishment of reference points and limits, gentle leading towards socialisation). I respected my educational and support role.
How are you dealing with difficult and crisis situations when taking care of a childon the autis spectrum?
There are no difficult situations, it is all about patience, listening, mutual aid and understanding. Our dedication is the same to all children that we take care of.
If I notice a disturbance, a stressful behaviour, I try to divert his attention even if I don’t know the exact cause of his distress. I often associate the disturbances with musical sounds, which allows him to associate these sounds with the moments of distress or anger. Also, sometimes it is enough to leave the child alone by giving him some time and space or some crafted anti-stress objects. Most of the time the child doesn’t want these objects, however it helps to divert his attention and progressively calm him down. From time to time, soap bubbles are efficient in calming the child down.
Finally, it would be appropriate for any childminder wishing to take care of a child with disability, to set up a care project in order to reassure oneself and the parents.
Why are you interested in the ChildIN project?
It seems to me that the project is useful and necessary to childminders because it is very important that they follow a well-defined training with professionals and experts in the field of disability and homecare. Early detection could help the parents in need seek the right information, be more confident about the quality of the provided care that is adapted to children’s needs.
Why do you think that it is necessary to develop a training on autism for childminders?
It is indeed necessary to develop as much as possible trainings on disability, whether it’s autism or not. As for me, my motivation goes beyond the childcare. I am motivated by the trainings that allow us to provide a more measured and appropriate care that better meets parents’ expectations and children’s needs.
Below are some examples of the training programs that I have followed (to this day the total number is 14):
– ‘Sing language’ training in 2015 and in 2018
– ‘One word, one sign’ in 2019
– ‘Take care of a child with autism’ in 2015 and soon in November 2019
– ‘Stress Management and Relaxation’ in 2017
-Taking care of oneself and the others’ in 2017
-‘Encouraging the good treatment’ in 2018
Despite the childminder’s goodwill, it is important that he or she receives a training beforehand in order to provide a quality care, adapted to some distinctive features of the child.
What would be the project’s most valuable information/tool/result for you?
Make the training mandatory to all childminders willing to take care of the child with autism spectrum disorder.
The tool: a complete training during at least 4 Saturdays containing role-playing, visit of institutions (I had this opportunity during my training on autism), meetings with autistic children. It is the best way to imagine and anticipate the future childcare. Also, it is necessary to know how to stimulate the visual senses, how to adapt the soothing lights, how to make a pictogram.
In short, meet the professionals and be able to observe and learn from their experience and professionalism is the most important aspect for me.