BEING A SPECIAL NEEDS NANNY Hi my name’s Caroline and I only ever wanted to be 2 things when I was growing up, one was a special needs nanny and the other was … an air hostess ( don’t ask me why lol )

Thank goodness I chose special needs. I’ve been in the industry for 25 years now , and although I have had a range of experience ( some quite hairy ) which covers , kidnapping threats , suicide attempts ( not me ) , alcohol abuse , drugs and abuse in all terms. Being beaten up by a young person on a daily basis ( due to them not understanding what is happening to them in their autistic world ) I’ve worked mainly with single parents it’s been a roller coaster of a time believe me.

What is it like to work with special needs children? Now there’s the million dollar question? I would say off the top of my head It is hard work, very challenging with a tremendous amount of stress. The rewards completely outweigh all of that, when you see that child smile for the first time, or they say a word or sound for the first time cannot be described.

My area of expertise is autism, speech and language and behaviour management.

This area is complexed , time consuming and everything is stage by stage. However if you have a fabulous speech therapist, with which I’ve worked alongside many in my 25 years of experience, you can become an unstoppable team.

Benefits include:

Watching a child grow, step by step. When a child under your care can finally say a sound / letter / or word it can give you a type of euphoria. It shows that all those hours of repetitive sentences / words or skill sets have finally gone in or clicked. And they all, no matter how small the improvement it will make a HUGE difference to that child’s (and families) life

Down side to committing to a special needs family:

When you commit, you commit. Some children with special needs don’t do “change “easily, it’s even harder for children with special needs than it is for main stream. So you’re in for the long haul.

You need to sometimes put your own life on hold, to be able to focus on that child and their family. There have been many a nights where I have awoken in the early hours of the morning thinking of an idea,  for a way to get a particular skill set taught, or a change of plan or even a new skill to be taught.

Another are holidays ( or lack of should I say ) again unlike main stream it’s very difficult to find a short term replacement’s for children with special needs. Whilst their full time permanent nanny is on holiday. (Having a well-deserved break) you can get a complete stranger that will take the whole of the holiday to get to know that child with specific needs, this can be quite stressful for both parents and the child. So with that I never had a holiday for 10 years. That’s dedication for you.

The parents ( bless them )

Any parent of a child is a complexed being (lol). However all the parents I’ve ever worked for have been very trusting, supportive and WANTED to be educated in this child’s disability. So they are able to help them themselves, they want their child to be happy, confident and as independent as they can be.

However a parent/s with a child with special needs (in my opinion) needs EXTRA care, support and understanding from their special needs nanny. This child is the most precious thing in the world to them. Being told their child has special needs can have a devastating effect on them as a parent,

The family as a unit, and the relationship that they may have with that child and their siblings.

With special needs you will need to keep up dated on your own skills and development this can become costly. Learning is continuous and each day should be taken as an opportunity. I also found being a qualified councillor came in very handy too.

I don’t regret any moment in my career, and I feel privileged and honoured to of been part of those wonderful families and been able to of made a difference to all those beautiful children.

A very happy special needs nanny indeed

Caroline Hartwell

Caroline Hartwell