Book Review: An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families

Book Review: An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families

Jill and Phil have been fostering since 2015 and live in Dorset with their three birth children and their foster son. Fostering has always been a very big part of Jill’s life as she grew up with her mum being a foster carer. They have been fostering 10 year old Toby, who has autism, for 18 months. During this time they have skillfully worked with his complex needs to offer a positive and settled home environment – with long-term matching now being sought. Alongside a very busy family life with many cats, rabbits, a tortoise and new puppy, Jill is also half-way through studying for her BA Hons in Childhood & Youth. Jill has read and reviewed the book ‘An Introduction to Autism’ for the National Association of Fostering Providers, which can now be seen in print on the NAFP website. Well done Jill for your excellent review!

Consultant Clinical Psychologists Katie Hunt and Helen Roswell provide a very accessible guide to autism and the added issues this may bring for an adoptive or foster child. The book is divided in to two parts. The first is a general introduction to autism including signs, symptoms and information about the diagnosis process. More importantly, the central message of the entire book is that every child with autism is different and, whether diagnosed or not, the emphasis is on the parent or carer to get to know their child’s autism.

Having looked after a young boy with autism for some time now I found this book a refreshing change to the others I have read. It does not blind you with technical professional language, instead it offers explanations of terms used by professionals and explains the assessment process.

While the authors point out that they offer no quick fix to the issues faced, they do offer lots of advice and strategies based on their experiences as psychologists. The second part of the book looks at the additional challenges faced by adopted or fostered children and their parents. This includes coping with transitions such as contact, moving placements, or the daily changeover between school and home. There are lots of practical suggestions and ideas offered to help with these transitions, ranging from pictorial guides and social scripts to visual timetables.
One important chapter in the book deals with attachment and the added issues this may present for child and parent. At the end of the book there is a `getting to know my child’ check list to create an overview of your child’s autism and what it means for them. This is a useful tool for children going on respite or to a new school or placement, as it gives a clear picture of the daily issues the child faces, their specific behaviours and what may help or hinder them to cope with transitions.

Although written with adoptive and foster parents in mind, I would recommend this book to any parent or carer looking after an autistic child.

An Introduction to Autism for Adoptive and Foster Families. How to Understand and Help your Child, Katie Hunt and Helen Rodwell (Jessica Kinglsey Publishers)

Review written by Jill, Foster Carer for Fusion Fostering.