We all need a break…. that’s when “Respite” comes along…
All parents need time away from their children. This may be especially true for the family of an individual with a disability. Living with a family member who needs almost constant supervision and care can create continual stress. Respite services provide families with temporary relief from the sometimes 24 hour a day job of supervising and supporting a person with a disability. Respite is an option for any child, adolescent, or adult with disabilities.
Respite services may provide the following:
- Individual care in the family home or the home of the respite care worker, as arranged.
- A short-term stay in a group home, family home, or other residential settings.
- Assistance to attend a camp or day program in the summer
When using respite services, it is important for families to provide specific information about their family member with a disability to agency staff. Maintaining a notebook with information about the individual’s method of communication, areas of concern, preferred activities, systems of reinforcement, medications, behavior support plans, suggestions for interactions, and a daily schedule can be helpful. Information about dressing, eating, bathroom use, and bedtime routines should be documented and readily available. Emergency numbers and emergency procedures should be clearly posted. Visual systems of support such as picture sequences, calendars, and checklists should be easy for the respite worker to access. Keeping updated information in one location will help the respite worker be successful, ease your peace of mind, and assist your son/daughter in adjusting to a new person.
Time for running errands, relaxing, pursuing other interests, and strengthening relationships with family members and friends is essential for all parents. Respite services can provide relief and can help all family members feel energized, including the person with a disability who spends time with trained personnel. Consider the benefits to the whole family. Be persistent in finding and working with an agency in developing respite services that meet your family’s needs. Respite services can truly enhance the lives of all family members.
Sources: Wheeler, M. (2009). Respite Services. Bloomington, IN Indiana Resource Center for Autism.