May is Foster Care Month, providing an excellent time to consider the convergence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the current foster care system. Between the general lack of knowledge regarding ASD and the cost of additional care, biological parents may not possess the skills, finances, or education necessary to provide a home to thrive. Despite the widespread lack of knowledge, children on the spectrum may likely be placed in a foster home without a mental health review.
As we know, foster care can shake the stability a child needs to feel to grow and thrive. However, this sense of stability is an even more impactful growth factor for children on the spectrum. Due to the large number of children in the foster care system, likely, those on the spectrum will not receive the unique care necessary, negatively impacting their ability to find their forever families.
How can we improve the foster care experience for children on the spectrum?
Autism can present in various ways. Likely, children will not receive a mental health screening before being placed in a home. Equipping foster families with information on how to spot these physical manifestations may create a pipeline for quicker diagnosis and adjusted care to support both children and foster families.
Access to Resources
Access to resources is a common factor for foster families. Providing families with the medical, educational, and physical resources needed to support a child with autism creates a supportive culture that may aid in increasing adoption rates.
Support groups can provide an intentional haven for families processing similar situations. Whether meetings occur virtually or in person, these spaces can work as sounding boards for what is and is not working.