Find out about the different care options available to autistic people and the possible treatments available to people that have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
Autism affects people differently, therefore, the care that each autistic person requires can differ greatly. Autism care must also be personalised to suit an individual’s needs, interests and lifestyle.
Different care options for autistic people
Care for autistic children or young adults is often provided by family members or a professional carer. It is important that those with an autism diagnosis get the support they need to maximise their independence and quality of life.
Some people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder do not need a lot of support. However, others need daily support from a carer. It is important that a care plan is focused on providing support to autistic people using a person-centred approach, meaning that the individual’s unique symptoms and needs are taken into consideration. Here are a few specialist autism care options available:
· Live-in care
· Hourly care
· Overnight care
· Respite care
Live-in care for autism
Live-in home care is often the preferred method of care for autistic people as they feel more comfortable in their own space. Moreover, a live-in carer is able to come to know and adapt to a person’s situation which is important when you consider that no two autistic people have the same symptoms. Here are some of the ways in which a personal assistant or carer can support an autistic child, young person or adult:
· Assisting at medical appointments
· Encouraging the development of independent life skills such as budgeting
· Helping individuals get to school, college, university or work
· Supporting individuals with personal care, such as washing and bathroom assistance
· Helping with cooking and maintaining good nutrition
· Accompanying individuals outside of the home, such as shopping, leisure activities, public transport or social events
· Helping to maintain relationships with friends and family and supporting social skills
Hourly care for autism
Carers can also be hired on an hourly basis to provide help when you most need it. Short-term care can be useful at times of the day when a carer needs an extra pair of hands, or wants to offer an autistic person the chance to gain independence.
· For an autistic child, hourly care could provide the help and support needed when they are getting ready for school in the morning, or going to bed in the evening
· For an autistic teenager or adult, hourly care could offer support at social events, at the shops or at medical appointments
· For an autistic elderly person, hourly care could offer support with good nutrition and cooking at meal times
Overnight care for autism
The night can be an anxiety-provoking time for many people. Therefore, some autistic people may require an overnight carer to provide support if they’re feeling anxious or if their symptoms are less manageable at this time of day. Here are just some of the things a carer can help an autistic person with at night:
· Security and peace of mind
· Prompting someone to take their medication
· Assistance with mobility within the home, such as climbing stairs or getting into bed
· Bathroom assistance
· On-hand help throughout the night
Respite care for autism
It is important to take a break from caring. Whether it’s because of family commitments, work or a carer’s need to address their own health and mental wellbeing, respite care can provide necessary time off.
Moreover, respite care can be a good way of trying out an alternative method of care. Professional support could seem like a good option for someone looking to become more independent in the future, perhaps after leaving school or home.
Care homes for autism
Residential homes can be a good option for some autistic people. If someone does not want to stay in their own home, residential services are an alternative option to home care.
Community support services for autism
Centres, social groups and family support groups also exist within the community for people who are looking for additional support and advice.
How much does autism care cost?
In 2018/19 the cost of care for working age adults rose by 1.6%. Almost £6 billion was spent on care for people with learning disabilities and over £6 Bn was spent on care for people who need physical support.
According to the NHS, at-home care can typically cost £20 per hour (this can vary depending on where a person lives). On average, in the UK, a live-in agency carer can cost between £650 - £1,600 a week (depending on the level of care needed).
With Curam, you only pay for the care delivered. Carers’ fees vary depending on their experience and your care requirements:
· Hourly Care: You can expect to pay from £13 to £16 per hour.
· Overnight Care: Overnight care typically covers the hours between 10pm and 8am, and can cost a fixed rate of around £90 per shift, or £14- £18 hourly for waking care.
· Live-in Care: Live-in care costs begin at £120 per day or an average of £800 per week.
Prices can be negotiated with the carer and include Curam’s fees.
Treatments for autism
Autism is a spectrum disorder. Therefore, some treatments are more successful than others depending on the individual and how they respond. It’s important that interventions are adapted to the specific needs of each autistic person.
Carers often work alongside therapists to implement effective treatment plans. Some of the therapies and treatments that help autistic people include:
· Occupational therapy
· Physical therapy
· Speech and language therapy
· Play therapy
· Behavioural approaches such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)
Occupational therapy for autistic children
Occupational therapy is used to plan programmes that consider the physical, social, emotional, sensory and cognitive needs and skills of autistic children. These programmes aim to improve an autistic person’s quality of life, encouraging them to learn and gain independence.
Another purpose of occupational therapy for autism is targeting a child’s sensory processing. This helps autistic people to keep their senses balanced, have a longer attention span, deal with transitions with less stress and learn in a calm, focused way.
Physical therapy for autism
Physical activities, such as puzzles or exercise, allow an autistic child to develop an awareness of their body and coordination. It can also help some children with autism to develop motor skills, posture and the ability to imitate other people’s behaviour.
Speech and language therapy for autistic people
Some people diagnosed with autism can have difficulties with speech and communication. Speech and language therapy helps autistic people to develop and improve their speech, which helps to improve their quality of life and gain more independence.
Play therapy for autism
Play therapy lets autistic children access their thoughts and feelings, express emotional or behavioural difficulties, and develop social interaction skills and communication skills. Playing is natural for children, therefore difficulties can be explored safely through this type of therapy.
Behavioural therapy for autism
Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) can help autistic children with many activities. It means that a behaviour analyst will figure out the causes and consequences of a person’s behaviour to create strategies to help them overcome difficulties. This is a person-oriented approach, meaning that each child will receive unique help tailored to their specific needs.
Common behavioural approaches to autism include:
· EIBI (Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention)
· Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
· Structure, Positive, Empathy, Low arousal, Links (SPELL)
· Treatment of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)
· Social stories
NOTE: Biomedical interventions, like medication, shouldn’t be used without the supervision of a medical professional who understands autism and the effects of this must be assessed carefully and regularly.
Support for autistic people and their families
You many know an autistic family member or friend that needs care or support. At Curam, we want to support you as best as we can by allowing you to choose the right carer and care-type for you or your loved one. There are other places you can go to find additional support for autistic people and their families:
· Find regional support services.
· Subscribe to Autism Parenting magazine for the latest news, information and professional advice on autism.
· Call or find more information from the National Autistic Society – 0800 800 4104 (Mon-Thurs 10:00 – 16:00, Fri 9:00 – 15:00)
· Call or find more information from Ambitious about Autism – 020 8815 544.
If you’re unsure where to start with arranging a carer, download the Curam app today. Our technology gives you choice and control over who your carer will be and many Curam carers specialise in caring for autistic people.