Autism does not only affect the individual with autism. It also affects the individual’s family and caregivers. Often, the focus on the individual with autism leads to caregiver burnout.
For the Association, caring for an individual with autism requires a team based approach; the educators/coaches, the parents/caregivers and the Association. This is an important equation needed to properly support a person with autism that the Association serves.
We also recognise that caregivers may face social isolation due to their undivided attention and care for their love ones with autism. This is why it is important that we support our caregivers and for such a group, even greater support and understanding is needed. At the Association, we extend our support through the Caregiver Support Network (CSN), which organises moments respite for caregivers to network and hear from other caregivers.
Recently, the Association’s Social Work team was able to organise a get-together lunch for 22 caregivers from Eden Centre for Adults (Clementi and Hougang) on 13 September 2018. This was a much anticipated and appreciated opportunity for a short 2.5 hour respite from the daily grind of caring for their child/ward with moderate to severe autism.
With a common understanding of what each caregiver was going through, participants were able to speak freely, share their tips and experience supporting their adult child with autism as they journey with them. In particular, caregivers discussed the importance of obtaining and the issues on deputyship for their adult children with autism.
The open sharing of knowledge and resources and the spontaneous exchange of information amongst caregivers marks a heart-warming first step towards collaborated efforts between the Association’s Social Workers and parents in making their journey more meaningfully worthwhile.
"At the end of the day, we just want to let the caregivers know they are never alone," said Ms Reine Lee, Social Worker, Autism Association (Singapore). "The Association and fellow caregivers are there to lend you a helping hand and a listening ear."