Autism comes in many different forms depending on whereabouts in the spectrum of symptoms a person lays. People with mild autistic symptoms or even quite moderate symptoms can lead normal, productive lives. People with more severe symptoms often need care and support to help them to get by in the world and to understand and relate to the people around them.
Whilst this support and care is normally provided for a person with autism by their parents and family as children and young adults, as they (and their parents) grow older it can become more difficult to support them at home. For some families that can mean making a difficult choice: to keep caring for them at home even if it is no longer possible to meet all of their needs, or to consider looking for a care home.
Specialist autism care homes exist, and finding one shouldn’t be too difficult. Finding the right one for your loved one might be harder than simply typing ‘autism care’ into a search engine – you’ll need to be satisfied that your loved one’s particular needs will be met and that they will be cared for and respected in their new home.
Going to live in an autism care home doesn’t mean that a person with autism can no longer partake in the ‘real world’. Good autism care homes offer a range of care, support and opportunities for people with autism to engage in – often within the local community. This is acknowledged, as part of autism care, to help to maintain a meaningful and purposeful life for a person with autism.
Depending on the nature of the autism care required, you could choose from several different types of autism care home. For example, an ‘Immediate Care Facility’ is a bit like a hospital – there are doctors and nurses available day and night and specialists are on hand to offer training on managing basic living skills. There are other specialists available to offer services like speech therapy and occupational therapy as required.
Another type of autism care home is the Supervised Community Residence – a place where people with autism can live in supervised housing with 24-hour help available on site. The aim of such residences is to teach people with autism the skills that they will need to be able, eventually, to live independently: these skills include things like cooking, interpersonal communication and behavioural skills.
If you think that your loved one might benefit from being cared for in a specialist home then do your homework on what facilities are available locally (so that it is easy for you to visit) and what reviews and reports are available about those places. Then visit the care homes and see for yourself what the atmosphere is like. Try to speak to relatives of other residents, or the residents themselves if possible. Finally, take your loved one to the facility to see if they feel comfortable there. A good care home will be happy for you to ask as many questions as you need to.