Diagrama foster carers, Peter and Kristin Nevins, from Surrey, have shared their home with four biological children and their 11-year-old foster child Jack* for four years. Here they share their experience of juggling fostering a child with a disability, while raising their own family.
Kristin said: “Our foster son Jack joined us four years ago. We chose to foster with the charity Diagrama as from the start they understood how important it was that the foster placement would need to fit in with our four children. We have felt well supported with Diagrama. When surprises have arisen, they are able to help us to ask the right questions and think through things realistically considering our whole family.”
Our social worker helped us to find specialist professional fostering support
“When further professional specialist support was needed our social worker helped us to find it. Because of this, we have been able to establish a good working relationship with our social worker. Our relationship is based on honesty and trust and has allowed for the longevity of our fostering placement.
We had no preconceived ideas about what age or sex any foster child placed with us might be. We just wanted to offer a home to one of the thousands of children in the UK who need a placement. We discussed it as a family so that everyone was fully on board and comfortable with our decision to foster.
When Diagrama suggested Jack, we looked closely at what this would mean for our family, and it just seemed right.
Jack is autistic and has global development delay, although 11, he has the processing time of a three to four-year-old. He needs simple, clear, consistent instructions, doesn’t have a sense of danger and is non-verbal.”
We were offered training to care for our disabled foster child
Having autism means that having a routine is very important. Jack needs to knows what to expect every day and that he is happy. We have learnt so much along the way and although Jack can walk, we find that taking a special needs pushchair out with us means that when his autism triggers him to immediately need a safe and secure place, he can use the pushchair.
Although non-verbal, he can vocalise negatives and positives. This gives us an understanding of what he wants. A big part of our journey has been to develop an awareness of what Jack needs when he can’t tell us.
We now recognise that he often uses cues. If he is missing his family, he will point to the ‘Finding Nemo’ DVD. He can now say ‘Where’s Dad At?’ a quote he has learned from the film.
Being a foster carer doesn’t put you on a more complicated path, it is part of an ordinary life. Our journey has had highs, lows, and a myriad of interesting challenges. I have a strong belief that anyone can do it if they have the right support in place.”
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, you can download our fostering information brochure here. Or if you’d like to speak to member of our team to find out the support available from Diagrama Fostering, please call 0800 802 1910 during office hours.