How to Choose a Nanny for Your Child With Special Needs

Having a nanny provide one-on-one care for your child with special needs can be a true blessing to your family. She can deliver hands on childcare, offer household support, be an important connection between home and school, and contribute to the team of professionals devoted to helping your child. But how do you find the right candidate? How do you know if a person will be successful in your position? Here are a few questions to ask when considering different candidates.

Does she have a connection to your child? There are many things that make a great special needs nanny. Nothing is more important than a positive connection between your child and nanny. Sometimes this happens right away. Sometimes it takes a while for the connection to develop. So how do you know during the interview stage if that connection is there? It is hard to tell because your child and your potential nanny don’t have a lot of time to spend together. But even from the beginning, you often see a spark. Plus, a big factor is the nanny’s willingness to do whatever she needs to do in order to make that connection. Ask her about the other children with special needs that she’s worked with and how she connected with them. Talk with her about your child’s personality and get her ideas on how she could work best with him. If the nanny has a true love of kids, is comfortable with special needs and is willing to work to build a relationship with your child, chances are she’ll be able to build a great connection with him.

Does she have relevant training? All nannies should have some training, including CPR/first aid certification and an understanding of basic child development knowledge. For nannies wanting to care for children with special needs, the nanny should have additional training to help her understand and effectively work with your child. This may include additional medical training, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training or a variety of other specialized training. This training will help the nanny understand the unique challenges your child is facing and give her the skills she needs to help him. If you are interviewing a great nanny that doesn’t have the training she needs, consider enrolling her in helpful courses. It will help both the nanny and your child.

Does she have the right kind of personality to work with kids with special needs? All nannies need to have a positive attitude, a true love of children, flexibility, patience and a problem solving outlook. Nannies who work with special needs children have to have all those traits in spades. They also need to be undaunted by failure, be able to think outside the box for new solutions or approaches, and have a willingness to learn and adapt. Not all nannies are well suited for these positions. Talk with each candidate about how she’ll tackle the challenges that come with the job

Is the nanny a team player? When you have a child with special needs, your nanny will need to work closely with you, the school and other professionals that help your child. Being a team player is a requirement. Hire someone that understands the need to openly communicate with everyone else on the team, who is open to learning new ways of doing things, who can make recommendations based on her experiences with your child, and who can effectively work side by side with you and other professionals. Talk with her about these issues during the interview and also cover this issue when talking with her references.

Can she be a support person for you? Working as a nanny involves hands on childcare, but it also includes household tasks that support the parents. These can consist of laundry, meals, grocery shopping, errands, household organization and keeping the schedule up to date. You may need extra support in some nontraditional ways. Before you begin your nanny search, create a list of the ways she can support you and incorporate those things into your job description. Candidates may not be willing to take them all on, but it’s always worth talking about your needs. The right candidate will be willing to pitch in and help you manage the extra work that often comes with parenting a child with special needs. It’s also important that your nanny supports you emotionally. She shouldn’t be your only support person, but it’s important that she understands your challenges and is willing to support you in your parenting choices.

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