Help with Special Needs Child


I was hoping that some of your readers could help me out with a dilema i have right now with a family that I babysit/tutor for who has an autistic child.

I was referred to this position by the mother of a friend who happens to be the piano teacher for one of the kids. She told me that there was a family looking for an after school babysitter/tutor for their two children, both girls ages 7 and 10. When I went to interview with the mother I was told that the older girl was "mildy autistic" and was shy around strangers but would eventually warm up. Because I was told that I did not press when I only got a glimpse of the older child assuming that she would warm up to me once I had time to get to know her.

Once I began this position, which is 15 hours a week, that the mother had clearly been lying/not upfront to me. The older child was not, as she put it "mildy autistic" but on the more sever end of the spectrum. She is 10 and in a special needs program at school learning on a 3rd grade level. She also has an awful atitude at home, which I'm pretty sure can be attributed to the fact that her mother works long hours owning a salon/spa in NYC and most of the time she is at home with her grandmother, who finds it easier to give her what she wants when she throws a fit rather then deal with her. As a result of that the older child throws a fit whenever she does not get whatever she wants/when I am trying to do homework with her. She is also verbally and physically abusive to her younger sister (7) and me saying things such as "I'm going to get someone to kill you"(said to me) "I'm going to sell you and send you away for ever"(said to her sister). She also has no issues with hitting and smacking various members of her family. The mother just seems to gloss over the older child's behavior with a "i cant do anything about it anyway" attitude.

My issue is I would have quit this job a long time ago if I had not bonded with the younger child who is really sweet. It is clear that the environment at home take a huge toll on her and I do not want to leave her there with no outside support. What should I do? If I quit I'm sure that I will forever feel awful because I did not do everything in my power to help the younger child but at the same time it is very grating on me to be working with a child that has had no discipline and is on the sever side of the autistic spectrum for minimal pay.



mickymow said...

honestly I would quit asap. I know that its very hard when you have bonded with a child, but it sounds like a losing battle. they lied about something VERY important and that says a lot about the type of employers that they are.

redridinghood said...

My advice would be to start looking for a new job NOW. Looking after a child with the problems that your oldest charge has cannot be done (and I speak from experience here) without the full support of your employers, and since you do not have this things are only going to get worse the longer you stay there. You deserve employers who will respect you and treat you as a professional, and that clearly is not happening.

justaneastcoastnanny said...

She could be mildly autistic, even children on the middle to lower end of the autistic spectrum can exhibit extreme and challenging behaviors when these behaviors are not managed properly.
That said ,you should find another job and leave this one. You do not have the needed skills to adequately care for the oldest child and manage her mother.

ericsmom said...

This little girl probably needs additional care besides having a nanny. She would benefit from possible ABA therapy at home. School districts offer this. But she would really have to fight for it. Request it and maybe have a doctor write a letter requesting additional help.

Really sad that the mom seems to be distant from the situation.

sowingseedsandwalkingaway said...

Another sad story of self-absorbed parents.

The mom lied because people always quit on her. Why? Because her mildly autistic child has developed behaviors that aren't being properly dealt with by her core caretakers and it makes the nanny want to quit.

Quit this job. You provide a service and when it takes precious energy away from you, it's a disservice. You can't save the world. The best you can do is do the best for you and help those who help themselves.

Katie said...

she could be mildly autistic...she's 10 and is working on the 3rd grade level? 3rd grade is usually ages 8-9 so it's not that big of a difference. However, I would advise you to quit

Nanny S said...

As a nanny for a mildly autistic child, I have to say that the parents are responsible here. This girl does need ABA therapy, and everyone else needs to be on board with her therapist's program in order for her behavior to change. But if the parents don't think it's a priority, nothing will change.

As for the younger children--it's so hard for us nannies to not become entangled in a dysfunctional family and care about the children as if they're our own and we must save them. But they're not our own. You must take a step back and realize that this is your job. It's hard to watch, yes, but ultimately, there is very little you can do for the kids.

I can't tell you to quit, but having been in similar positions myself, I know what I would do.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is an ethical hindrance to quitting if the job is just not a good match for you. However, with an autistic child- you simply cannot evaluate behaviors by normative standards. That doesn't mean that a great deal couldn't be accomplished via ABA or other therapies and interventions. You seem to have made one child the angel, one the devil, and yourself the victim. It's not intentional, I gather, but framed in terms of your exposure to autism, perhaps? Autistic kids can be provocative, irritating, disruptive and inappropriate. They can also be very anxious, overly focused on objects, rituals, and unaware of the effects their behavior has on others. You won't ever, ever, ever... (did I say ever? because I do mean EVER) be able to make an autistic child conform to neurotypical patterns. But there are tremendous rewards to advocating for this population. They can be funny, their perspective is often unique, and their needs are as real as yours or your other charge's... it's just that your ten year old can't express them appropriately, MAY not be able to express them at all, and won't be able to tell you how very much she needs the attention of caring facilitators who will take the time to get to know her for herself, help her learn to deal with her world, learn to express her inner self just a bit, and give her something she can attach to that's worthwhile. Not everyone is "up" for this, but it's a very worthwhile job to have. (And she's not bad or lacking or irritating or whatever... You just have to see past the white noise to who she is, a process of time, relationship and openness.)