Dear Au Pairs and Parents,
Hosting an Au Pair can be very rewarding when your Au Pair has the skills, qualifications, and attitude your family needs. We understand the challenge of finding the right candidate and have developed a rigorous checklist for Au Pairs to aid in the process. Aspergers Syndrome is medically classed as a disability, however we know that people on the autism spectrum may be part of the creative community in our society. Many famous artists, researches had Aspergers such as Einstein, Darwin, Picasso … Nowadays many high skilled professionals have undiagnosed Aspergers Syndrome and it wouldn’t be fair to label them as “disabled” because they see the world different and have very unique talents/interests. Asperger Syndrome is considered one of five “Pervasive Developmental Disorders” within the spectrum of autism. Because Aspie children are not mentally retarded a diagnose can be delayed until school age.
- Do you have a good sense of humor and don’t take comments personally?
- Can you stay calm and relaxed in challenging situations?
The perfect candidate would have at least two years of full-time professional experience with special needs children and/or a degree in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Special Education, or other special needs focused degrees. However most Au Pairs don’t have such qualifications.
At least parents should ask for the following documents:
- CV with photo and 2 child care/special needs related references
- a statement why the Au Pair likes to apply for a position with a child with Aspergers Syndrome (to see if the Au Pair is familiar with the spectrum or has interest to deal with it)
- current CPR and First Aid certificate
- Police check from the home country
- Blue card or equivalent from the home country
- drivers license (can be handy)
AND the following questionnaire:
Imagine that a child with Aspergers is very overwhelmed by new people (you included). You need to stay calm and just ignore such behaviour. Usually less words, less eye contact is best!
Can you cope with (what would you do if this happens):
- Feeling very unwelcome and lonely at the first days, because a child with Aspergers will usually first observe you or ask you too many questions so that you feel overwelmed.
- A strict routine which is necessary for children with Aspergers
- A very special family with unique needs and expectations (ask the family to give you house rules, checklists and other written guides so that you get familiar with everything before your arrival or on the day of your arrival)
- A child hiding when you arrive
- A tantrum without any visible reason
- A child slamming a door in front of you when you like to enter the bathroom
- A child not responding to their name if they are stressed
- A child being rude to you
- A child taking things from you
- A child asking inappropriate questions in the wrong situation
- A child sensitive to strong smells such as caused by cooking
Remember, often not only the child has Aspergers maybe the parent/s has/have it too (sometimes undiagnosed). Are you able to deal with such unique situations? Read more about parents with Aspergers …
Ask if any family member is allergic or sensitive to specific smells and under no circumstances eat such foods in the home.
The downside of working for family with children on the spectrum is, that they usually do not have the typical social life as you know it. Are you able to occupy yourself?
Autistic children are very curios (and some can’t resist to take it away) and it is recommended that you keep your belongings ALWAYS locked in your bag during the stay with your host. You might think that a cupboard would be a better option, however you take the risk that the child will be exposed to a challenging situation and some of your stuff will disappear (and cause a stressful situation).
- Are you aware that you need to keep any medication, sharp objects, cosmetic articles locked (don’t forget to buy such a bag with a child-safe-locker)
- Are you well organised and able to keep all your belongings always in your suitcase?
Some families with ASD have therapy pets or service dogs and expect that you share their love for animals. So please check with your host family if you need to help with pet care, service dog duties eg. and please be honest if you don’t have such skills or if you don’t like it if such a pet enters your room!
Please note that you must respect the privacy of any host family you stay with and should not discuss their family life outside their home.
Please ensure that you read through this checklist carefully so that you fully understand the requirements!