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Fostering a neurodivergent child or young person

Olive Branch Neurodiversity Blog

Not everyone experiences the world in the same way. Around 15–20% of children and young people in the UK are neurodivergent, which means they think, learn and interact differently from what is considered typical, or neurotypical. 

When fostering a child with neuro differences, such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia, it’s important to fully understand their challenges and strengths so you can give them tailored support that meets their needs.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how foster carers can create a nurturing environment that encourages neurodivergent foster children to show up as their authentic selves and reach their potential. 


Understanding your foster child’s neuro differences

Neurodivergence can impact on young people in various ways. For example, children with autism might have sensory sensitivities, find social interactions challenging, and prefer routine. But they might also have exceptional focus and attention to detail. Those with ADHD may struggle with attention and impulse control but show high levels of creativity and energy. And while some dyslexic children will find tasks such as reading and writing challenging, they might excel in problem-solving and thinking outside the box.

As a foster carer, it’s essential to recognise and accommodate these unique challenges and strengths. A child with autism, for example, might find comfort in having a predictable routine and a young person with ADHD might respond better to tasks that are broken down into manageable steps.

When fostering a child with neuro differences, there’s a lot to think about – but you don’t have to do it alone. At Olive Branch Fostering, we make sure you’re fully supported every step of the way. You’ll have access to specialist training and an on-call social worker, who can provide specific advice and guidance when you need it.


Creating inclusive environments

Children and young people with neuro differences might feel misunderstood or unable to be themselves around others. This sense of isolation and loneliness can impact on their mental health, self-esteem, behaviour and overall well-being. 

Foster carers should aim to make these children feel as involved and supported as possible. You could plan a family activity that appeals to your foster child’s strengths and interests, or take an active role in advocating for their specific needs in educational or social settings. 


Communication and community

Neurodivergent people experience the world differently, and, as a foster carer, it’s important you maintain open communication and a commitment to continuous learning. For instance, if your foster child is sensitive to lights, patterns or colours, you might want to ask them how you can make their bedroom more relaxing and comfortable. 

It also helps to surround yourself with people who can identify and relate to your situation. At Olive Branch Fostering, we run regular local foster carer support meetings in the North West, which are a fantastic opportunity to meet up with other foster carers in your area and connect with a community who share similar experiences. 


At Olive Branch Fostering, we prioritise the well-being of our carers and the children in their care. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about fostering in the North West, get in touch with our friendly fostering advisors today.



Fostering insights


  • Foster Carer

Date published

28 June 2024

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