Respite care for families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: how services in Northamptonshire UK are working to meet the challenge

David Preece


This paper identifies the importance of respite care services for many families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but also some of the obstacles that may prevent families accessing such services. It describes how Northamptonshire County Council, a local authority in the United Kingdom (UK), is working to meet the challenge of providing ‘autism-friendly’ respite services. The paper outlines factors that families have identified as being positively associated with quality in respite care for children with autism and their families. These are the physical environment, staff attributes and their understanding of ASD, consistency with other settings, the use of ASD-appropriate approaches, individualisation, the activities on offer, and the way that children are grouped. As well as outlining the major characteristics of these services, and how they seek to meet the needs of families with children with ASD, the paper describes the limitations of these services and the challenges and issues that remain.


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