All foster children require a safe and stable home, with people who provide the support and love they need. However, those with special needs need a little more help than other foster children. Below, we will discuss some helpful tips for supporting these foster children.
Learn About Their Needs
Special needs is an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of conditions. These could include developmental delays, learning disabilities or even behavioural disorders. To ensure you are providing the right kind of support, it would be helpful to learn as much as you can about their specific situation. Doing so will help you better understand their condition. In most cases, the caseworker can provide insight, but it is always best to do additional research. Numerous online resources, research documentation and even books can help with the research.
Seek Assistance When You Need It
Foster children and teenagers have access to different services based on their needs. Depending on the foster care agency you use, these can be therapeutic monitoring, counselling that helps them develop the skills and strategies they need for daily functioning or setting up learning opportunities.
It is best to accept that part of being a foster carer is committing to finding the support your foster child needs. This includes finding support groups so you can learn about how best to support them, or arranging play dates so they can interact with other kids.
Additionally, working with a foster care agency that provides additional support through family support workers can be invaluable. Find out more by contacting Orange Grove Foster Care.
Interact with Them
Part of providing support to foster children with special needs is understanding them. The best way to do this is by learning how to interact with them. Rules of polite conversation can be very helpful because many children with special needs require patience and understanding when interacting with them.
Also, explain things to them as they happen. Children with special needs want to be clued in on what is going on, so make eye contact and explain things to them. Always try to be deliberate and non-threatening with your words and actions to help them follow what you are saying and to prevent them from retreating.
Learn to Read Their Body Language
The complexities of trauma, moving to a new home and having special needs can make foster children unable to vocalise discomfort. They may go along with things to please you and to ensure they are not being a bother.
It is up to foster carers to learn how to read their body language. Remember that even though they may not be telling you in words, they may be showing you with their body language and actions, and it is up to you to pick up on this. If you are not sure about what you are seeing, it is always best to ask them what is going on. Ensure you talk to them as an ally so that they understand you are on their side and can open up to you.
Supporting and caring for foster children with special needs is a different experience that requires you to be sensitive to their needs. Whether it is learning more about their needs or learning how they communicate, providing support will make things much better for everyone involved.