The summer of 2018 I became a weekly caregiver to my nephew.
My nephew has autism and was nonverbal at the time.
I had a 6-month-old baby and was looking forward to spending the summer with my 7-year-old nephew. I quickly learned within the first day that the reality of the situation was not going to meet my expectation.
My patience was depleted, my problem-solving skills tested, my confidence was shaken all before 11 am. I had always spent so much time with my nephew but as he had gotten older his needs had changed.
That summer gifted me so many opportunities to learn how to care for a child with special needs.
I learned in those hard moments when tensions get high to take a deep breath.
If the child is in a safe space, go into another room and as the adult calm yourself before trying to calm the child.
Don’t share in their chaos, be the calm that they deserve.
Hugs help big time.
Sensory output activities can help for overwhelming moments: playing with sand, slime, rice, jumping, kicking a ball, running, etc.
Just taking the time to connect, and see what the child needs is everything. I know that I am a better person for having my nephew in my life. He has enriched my days by just being himself.
I am fortunate to be his aunt, and my hope is that anyone lucky enough to care for him will be patient and loving because that is exactly what he deserves.