We get a lot of questions from au pair candidates who wonder whether anyone will match with them, given that they ______(fill in the blank here).
For example, we just got an email (below) from an au pair with (non-swearing) Tourette’s Syndrome, who wonders whether host parents will consider her application.
When you have an uncommon medical or other issue
As long as the issue is not something that would affect your ability to care for a child, the advice is the same:
- Offer a clear, succinct, and honest description of your issue.
- Mention whether you take medication, have any side effects, can anticipate additional problems later in a year, how you’d get help if your condition changed,
- Discuss how you think it might affect your host child(ren) relationships
- Discuss how you think it might affect your host parent relationships
- Offer a few examples of how other people respond to your condition/situation, so that a host parent can understand what your experience usually is, and
- Maybe add a photo or a video so that host parents can see for themselves, before they even contact you.
- Give yourself a little more time to make a match, and
- Don’t take it personally.
We depend on the judgement of your In-Country Interviewer
We Host Parents expect that your local interviewer or recruiter has met you and confirmed that your issue isn’t a deal–breaker. So if you’ve passed that evaluation, what you really need to address is a host parent, family, child or community discomfort with your condition.
And by discomfort, I mean the emotional and social awkwardness that we experience the first few times we interact with someone who has a difference or a situation we’re unfamiliar with.
Good Intentions vs. Previous Experience
Most of us have good intentions. We want to be flexible, adaptable, open, and inclusive — and in our minds, we are.
But when we’re faced with a situation that’s new and maybe scary, it can take a little while to get accustomed to it and feel comfortable. For example, many people have good, positive intentions about same-sex couples or interracial couples, but feel a bit awkward the first time they sit next to couples who are different from them at a church supper. In their minds- Hey, they’re open! But it takes a little bit of effort to put that openness into warm, welcoming behavior and then to take the next step into taking whateveritis for granted.
Give potential Host Parents as much honest information as you can, be ready to share more details when you talk with them, and treat this as part of the learning process.
Parents, any additional thoughts?
Here’s the email:
I’m considering an international AuPair program for a year or two before attending college. I’ve worked at a nursery looking after 0-3 year olds since I was 13, and I’ve worked at a summer camp for the past three summers. I babysit nearly every weekend for a whole variety of ages of kids, and I’ve always gotten good reports from parents that I’ve worked for. I speak fluent English (first language) and ideally would be looking to improve my spanish. I’m as fluent in spanish as I can be without any immersion. I have had my drivers license for several months (mainly because of age restrictions in my state) but have been driving nearly daily since I turned sixteen.
I also have Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s a neurological disorder that causes vocal tics (involuntary sounds) and motor tics (involuntary movements). While this disorder has a bad rap because of media sensationalization of coprolalia and copropraxia (involuntary swearing and vulgar gestures) this has not been present for me. My primary tics are whistling, blinking, shrugging my shoulders, and short bursts of humming. While not super severe they do happen for most of every day. I would be on medication during my time as an aupair but would likely require no other care.