We know how hard it can be to attend social events and interact with new people when you’re autistic. That's where a support worker can come in handy.
In this post, we’ll provide an overview of the specific support autistic people and their families might need, the advantages of hiring a support worker, and what key characteristics to look for.
Autistic people have specific learning and communication processes, interests, behaviours, and experiences in social interactions, which can affect their daily lives and that of their families. They may have difficulty visiting loud places (like shopping centres), learning new skills or opening up to new people.
With appropriate support and services, autistic children and adults can thrive personally, professionally and socially.
Families and friends play an important role in supporting autistic people to develop social skills and gain independence. However, sometimes they may need a helping hand to support their children or friends when they can't be around (also known as respite care). That's where support workers come in.
What is a support worker?
Disability support workers are trained to provide autistic people with the specific support they need, whether that’s help with grocery shopping or a buddy for social events.
Support workers can help you or a loved one with a range of activities, including:
- Support with community access and participation
- Support with daily activities including cleaning and shopping
- Accompanying people to events, appointments, and other social functions
- Help developing new skills in social interaction, communication, and daily living
- Help building an environment that enables self-advocacy and empowerment, enabling autistic people to access and maintain employment and other experiences
Also, you or your family member get to choose who you work with and what activities you do together. You can often search for support workers based on their age, background, location, interests, and even qualifications. You’ll find many have experience working with children and individuals with certain conditions.
Key characteristics to look for in an autism support worker
Disability support workers must possess certain skills and qualities to provide the best possible support to their clients. If you're looking for an autism support worker, here are some key qualities to look out for.
- Empathy: This is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. When working with autistic people, understanding where they are coming from helps avoid misunderstandings and allows the support worker to provide the best type of care and assistance.
- Creativity: Autistic children and adults are naturally creative, hence, a support worker must also be able to engage with them through different creative methods. This also means being resourceful in providing the support needed and being comfortable trying out new methods such as using play to engage them.
- Patience: Since autistic children and adults usually have a unique perspective in processing and experiencing the world, a support worker must be patient in understanding these distinct factors. It may take some time before an autistic person is able to communicate their needs. This makes patience an important factor for a support worker.
- Experience: Support workers who have experience working with autistic people will know to ask about their triggers, speak clearly and seek out safe environments that don't have loud sounds or bright lights. Be sure to look for support workers with an NDIS Worker Check to ensure they have been vetted and have a good working knowledge of the scheme.
- Reliable: No one wants a support worker who always cancels bookings at the last minute. Choose someone who replies to your messages quickly, clearly, and in a friendly manner. If you can, check if they have been recommended by other people in the community!
Benefits of hiring support workers
Apart from offering respite for primary carers, hiring a support worker can help autistic people thrive in several ways, including:
Help with daily errands
Support workers can help with day-to-day activities such as running errands, doing the groceries, paying bills, and preparing meals. This can help their autistic client learn new things and build confidence, but also give their family peace of mind knowing that their loved one is getting the support they need.
On top of the usual day-to-day tasks, support workers provide emotional support and companionship to autistic children or adults. They understand they are in the business of care, more than anything else. To support workers, they are more like friends than clients.
We understand the importance of community participation and a provider like Like Family allows you to make bookings with 1-2 other Members and 1 support worker. This makes it easier to make friends and enjoy social events with others.
Find an autism support worker near you
Like Family is one of Australia’s most loved and trusted disability support providers. Our friendly support workers (who we call Social Carers) specialise in helping autistic children and adults gain independence, learn new skills, and participate in their community.
They all undergo a comprehensive vetting process, including an NDIS Worker Check, group induction and 2+ reference checks. We only approve applicants we’d hire to look after our own family members.
We offer 5 free Meet and Greets so you can check if a support worker will be the right match for your needs and interests by meeting them online or in person.
Whether you’re an NDIS participant or paying independently, we’ll help you get more hours out of your budget.