Professional Nanny for Children with Autism

Many parents pursue careers after having children as a means to provide for their families. Nanny services enable busy parents to focus on earning a living while a trained, experienced professional takes care of their children. Trustworthy supervision is especially important for children with autism. Autistic children require highly specialized care and constant attention to ensure that they have the support and assistance they need to feel calm and relaxed. A nanny for autistic children must have special training and credentials to be qualified to provide adequate care.

Autism is a disorder that’s expressed on a spectrum, so some children have more severe symptoms than others. It’s a neurological condition that causes extreme sensitivity to stimuli such as:

  • bright lights
  • loud noises
  • abrasive textures
  • pungent odors
  • strong tastes

These sensations don’t have to be extreme to be upsetting to a child with autism. People with this condition perceive sensory stimuli differently than neurotypical individuals. Seemingly ordinary experiences can feel overwhelmingly stressful to a child with autism.

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Related resource: Top 25 Online Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


Childcare workers earn a median annual salary of around $22,000, or about $10.75 per hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of income earners in the childcare profession take home about $15 per hour or more. Nannies with special credentials and skills are able to charge more than the average rate for their services.

Full-time nannies for children with autism can earn significantly more money than the average childcare worker. Live-in nannies with the proper training, experience, and credentials can charge a premium rate for their services. However, not every family with autistic children can afford to pay such a high rate for childcare.

The amount of money you earn as a nanny for autistic children will depend on your :

  • education
  • expertise
  • training
  • experience
  • employer

To make yourself as attractive as possible to families with autistic children, your resume, references, and licensure should all be in proper order. As a domestic worker, you will be competing for employment with many people who are unlicensed, undocumented, and willing to take very low payments under the table. By advertising your services as above-board, safe, and legal, you can narrow down your job search considerably.

Key Responsibilities

Nannies for children with autism have all the same responsibilities as regular nannies, but they also must take on the critical responsibility of helping autistic children deal with their symptoms. These symptoms typically include panic and agitation brought on by a moment of overstimulation. Autistic children have a tendency to wave their arms and cry out in discomfort when they are exposed to an overwhelming stimulus. This reaction is sometimes called “stimming” because it happens when an autistic child becomes stimulated.

As a nanny caring for an autistic child, part of your job will be to gently help the child calm down when he or she becomes agitated and then to stay calm as much as possible. Nannies with nutritional or medical expertise may be able to help treat an autistic child by creating a diet plan designed to alleviate the symptoms of autism.

Necessary Skills

The general skills needed by all nannies are basic child-rearing skills that many people possess naturally without any training. Nannies are typically responsible for:

  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • driving
  • supervising
  • entertaining

Nannies for children with autism must be able to perform these tasks while monitoring an autistic child for discomfort or agitation.

In addition to the essential childcare skills needed to watch over a child with autism, nannies also need to have several qualities of effective employees. With excellent communication skills, effective interpersonal skills, and a strong work ethic, a nanny can expect to find consistent employment at the high end of the pay scale.

Degree and Education Requirements

The minimum education requirement to be a nanny in most instances is a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate. Premium jobs will go to nannies with additional licensure and certification. The Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate credential. Many employers and government regulators require that nannies obtain this certificate before taking on the responsibility of supervising children.

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Pros and Cons of the Position

Being a nanny for autistic children has several benefits and a few challenges. The advantages of this profession include:

  • the low barrier to entry
  • the relative lack of stress
  • the personal networking opportunities
  • the satisfaction of performing a meaningful job that helps to ease the anxiety of a child with special needs.

The drawbacks of providing childcare for autistic children include:

  • long, irregular hours
  • cleaning up bodily fluids
  • somewhat below-average pay.

Getting Started

To get started in this profession, earn a high school diploma or general education development certificate, then become licensed to provide childcare services in your state. You can choose to apply for work:

  • at a childcare center
  • as a freelance contractor
  • as a live-in nanny

The most important consideration in your choice is your level of comfort and happiness in the position you choose. Taking care of a child with autism is a big responsibility that requires a high level of focus and attention. The happier you are in a position, the more effective you can be as a caregiver. In this situation, you have the potential to make a major impact on the life of a special-needs child.

Future Outlook

Jobs in the childcare industry are projected to increase by about seven percent over the next 10 years, according to the BLS. This rate is about the same as the average for all occupations in the economy. As more children receive early diagnoses for autism, the demand for trained and certified nannies will grow. By getting the proper licensure, certification, training, and expertise in autism childcare, you can increase your chances of finding stable, fulfilling employment.

As long as autism is prevalent in the population, specialized childcare workers will be needed to provide support and assistance to autistic children and their families. This responsibility is very important for the optimal development of an individual with autism. Your childcare services have the potential to change the life of a child living with this condition. To become a nanny, begin looking into the requirements for childcare in your state.