Caring for a child or relative with autism presents a number of unique challenges. This neural development disorder is still a subject of extensive research, without any single known cause. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, individuals can display a broad range of symptoms. Some of the most prominent characters include a lack of empathy, problems with eye contact and communication, a delayed ability to speak, echolalia, a strong desire for routine and an obsession with a particular subject. Autistic people may also engage in “stimming,” or self-stimulating, repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping or rocking.
Some autistic children and adults are able to live relatively average, independent lives, with a few special considerations. Others may struggle with more limiting disabilities and require more intensive care. Whatever the case, personal care services can help.
The benefits and scope of home care services will vary, depending on each autistic person and his or her unique needs. Services may include helping the autistic individual complete his or her daily routines, ensuring that the person stays safe, helping to administer medications and assisting the autistic person in mastering new skills. Some families may seek home services that include household chores, such as preparing meals, or accompanying the autistic person to community events. The exact range of duties is as variable as the families that need home health care services.
The professionals providing personal care services are knowledgeable about the unique challenges of caring for a person with autism. They are equipped to deal with temper tantrums and can work on specific behavior management techniques. The caregiver will be able to get to know the patient, including his or her personal behaviors and habits. Caregivers should also be able to help the autistic individual work towards greater independence, if appropriate. It is especially important for providers of home care services to be able to communicate effectively with the autistic child or adult, whether this involves non-verbal cues or other non-traditional methods of communication.
A trustworthy and qualified PCA can relieve the stress of caring for a special needs individual, as well as improve the quality of life for those struggling with mild or severe autism. Since autistic individuals often seek out predictability and routine, being able to stay in his or her home environment may be more beneficial than moving to a new setting, such as group home. In-home care also helps the autistic person’s family, by providing more stability and helping family members avoid excessive stress or burn-out. The decision to seek home care services can be one of the most helpful tools a family has when dealing with an autism diagnosis.