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An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families

An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families

Katie Hunt | Helen Rodwell


Additional Information


Written for busy foster carers and adoptive parents, this book provides a concise introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and how to support a child with a diagnosis. It emphasises the common strengths children with ASD have, as well as offering strategies for any behavioural issues that are likely to arise, highlighting how these can be exacerbated by the care system and adoption process.

The first part of the book looks at the different aspects of autism and the challenges it can pose for children and parents, providing strategies for managing difficulties at home and at school, using social stories, and reducing sensory input in a child's environment. The second part looks at issues that arise for fostered or adopted children, including placement transitions, contact, and explaining the past. It concludes with helping parents to think about self-care.

Dr Helen Rodwell is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, based in Derby, UK. She works with looked after and adopted children and provides supervision and consultation to other professionals, including adoption and fostering social workers. She currently works with a range of Local Authorities, Barnardo's and a voluntary Adoption Agency.

Dr Katie Hunt is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Paediatric Clinical Neuropsychologist currently working in private practice in Nottingham, UK. She specialises in work with children and young people with complex special needs and neurodevelopmental difficulties, which includes children with Autism.

Adoption UK regularly supports adoptive parents who are struggling to decide whether their children has autism or an attachment disorder and what difference those two diagnosis might mean. This book will be invaluable to them as it provides a really helpful and simple description of how autism can present in different children, and how this can be similar to attachment difficulties. This book will help parents to get to know their child and their autism. It provides lots of real life examples and explores issues specific to adoption - such as moving from fostering to adoption. It will be invaluable bedside reading for many adopters.
Ann Bell, Adoption UK

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Foreword by Daniel Hughes 13
An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families: How to Understand and Help Your Child by Katie Hunt and Helen Rodwell 3
Acknowledgments 15
Preface 17
Notes on terminology 18
1. What is Autism? 19
Introduction 19
What do we mean when we say ‘autism’? 20
So, what is autism? 23
Autism as a spectrum 25
What else might be going on? 48
Let’s introduce some made-up children 51
2. How is Autism Assessed? 56
Introduction 56
How is autism assessed, and what is good and poor practice? 61
Assessment and formulation 61
Specific issues for fostered and adopted children 73
3. Overriding Principles for Parenting a Child with Autism 80
Principle 1: Know your child (and his autism) 81
Principle 2: Get alongside your child 83
Principle 3: Understand the communication in your child’s behaviour 88
Principle 4: Look behind your child’s behaviour 91
Principle 5: Keep things calm 96
Principle 6: Be predictable 97
Principle 7: Think environment 98
Key strategies 101
Thinking about tricky situations 113
4. Everyday Transitions at Home and School 122
Introduction 122
The ‘small’, everyday transitions 124
Transitions between schools 132
What else can we do to help with transitions, both big and ‘small’? 136
5. Placement Transitions and Contact 144
Placement transitions 144
How to support your child with contact 161
How to support your child with involvement from social care professionals 167
6. Attachment and Belonging 172
What is an attachment and why do we need to know about it? 172
What is different about attachment in children with autism? 191
7. Life Story, Loss and Trauma 207
How to help your child understand her past and the reason for being fostered or adopted 208
Helping your child recover from past trauma and loss 216
8. Looking After Yourself 224
9. Seeking Help and Resources 228
Places to find help and support 228
Finding a professional 232
Getting to Know my Child 235
Subject Index 241
Author Index 245
List of figures 10
Figure 1.1: Aspects of autism 26
Figure 1.2: Teapots and thresholds 45
Figure 1.3: The autism and anxiety wheel 46
Figure 1.4: The window of tolerance 47
Figure 1.5: Jamil’s aspects of autism 52
Figure 1.6: Emily’s aspects of autism 54
Figure 2.1: Assessment and formulation 62
Figure 2.2: Aspects of autism 63
Figure 2.3: How an assessment process might look 69
Figure 2.4: Jamil’s assessment process 77
Figure 2.5: Emily’s assessment process 78
Figure 3.1: Jamil’s play 86
Figure 3.2: Understanding what behaviour is about 92
Figure 3.3: Jamil and Lizzie 95
Figure 3.4: Visual timetable for the morning routine 103
Figure 3.5: An example visual aid to help a child learn how to meet expectations 106
Figure 3.6: How intervention flows from assessment and formulation 115
Figure 3.7: Some of the things that could influence Jamil’s behaviour 116
Figure 4.1: Examples of visual timetables for school 142
Figure 5.1: A social script to explain a forever mummy 152
Figure 5.2: A visual timetable for the morning 159
Figure 5.3: An example of a visual timetable 166
Figure 6.1: How attachment works 175
Figure 6.2: Things that influence the development of early attachment 176
Figure 6.3: Mother and baby in reciprocity 182
Figure 6.4: Internal working model for a child with a secure attachment 185
Figure 6.5: Secure and insecure attachment styles 186
Figure 6.6: Attachment disorders 190
Figure 6.7: Aspects of autism 192
Figure 6.8: How autism may impact on attachment 198
Figure 7.1: Pyramid for recovering from trauma and loss 219
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