5 TIPS ON BABYSITTING A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Prior to babysitting a child with mental special needs, do your homework. Learn as much about the child and their disability. If they have a diagnosis you are unfamiliar with, get as much information as you can so you can be prepared and confident.

KNOW SOME OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MENTAL DISORDERS YOU ARE FACED WITH

  1. AUTISM - Is a developmental disorder that makes it hard to communicate or intact with people, either mild or severe autism. Children with  autism may have a problem understanding simple instructions or requests, they may also become overwhelmed by busy and noisy places.
  2. DOWN SYNDROME -  Is a condition in which  genetic material causes delay in the way a child develops, both physically and mentally. Kids with down syndrome may often seem younger than they are, their skills are often behind than that of other kids. You might need to adapt to play to their level of understanding .
  3. ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD) - A child with ADHD often has a lot of energy and can get wounded very quickly. Their attention span for activities might be shorter than that of other children, so plan many activities and use them as needed. 
  4. ANXIETY -  It is really just a form of stress, it can be expressed in many different ways. Physically, emotionally and in the way they view the world around them.  It relates to worry about what might happen, worrying about what if things go wrong or what if they might be in danger.

LEARNING TO BABYSIT A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

  • LEARN WHAT MAKES THEM UNIQUE - You need to learn all you can about the child. e.g medications and schedules,  the child's means of expression, routines and approved ways of handling situations with the child.

 

  • FOLLOW THE CHILD'S ROUTINES - Many families who have a child with special needs have a routine they adhere to when it comes to looking after the child, especially during mealtimes and bedtime. How ever in caring for a special child it might help to make your own schedule based on what you know about them, that way you will be better able to manage situations with the special child you are babysitting. 

 

  • STICK TO FAVORITE ACTIVITIES AND TOYS - When taking care of a special need's kid you should know the activities and toys they like and respond to and take advantage of them during your visits. Kids may respond well to a babysitter who mimics what they love doing and cooperates in doing simple tasks, if it means playing with their favorite toys.

 

  • KEEP COMMUNICATION SIMPLE AND FAMILIAR -Language is one area of development that's a challenge to special kids. That's why babysitters should use clear and simple words when giving them instructions, let them repeat back to you what you said to ensure that they listened and understood what you said.

 

  • KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULTIES AND CONTINGENCIES - Like any other child, a special  child will have their bad days. As a babysitter, you should be prepared in dealing with their tantrums, obedience issues and upsets in general, it's best to roll with the tantrums as long as no one gets hurt. Favorite activities can come in handy when calming a distraught child.

References: Enabled Kids http://enabledkids.ca/5-tips-for-babysitting-special-needs-kids/
MedicineNet.com  http://www.medicinenet.com/mental_illness_in_children/article.htm