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Summer: A Time for You to Reset, Recharge & Refresh

Published August 11th, 2022 by NYTPS Inc

Blog author: Miriam Fruchter, MA, CCC-SLP

 

My husband and I envy those couples that set aside a night each month for a “date night.” We always talk about it, discuss ideas, but never stick to it. Being a parent of three young children, it shouldn’t be a mere thought or discussion, it should be a strict parenting rule that needs to be strongly adhered to. How much more so for parents of children with special needs whose time is not their own, whose schedules are packed with multiple therapies, doctor’s appointments, and numerous phone calls on top of the busy daily lives we all carry. How much more so for parents of the child with autism, whose lives are many times focused on this child, impacting not just the lives of the parents but the lives of the siblings as well. As Hannah Gal, in an Autism Parenting Magazine put it:

 

“Caring for a child with autism can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Parents or caregivers with a child on the autism spectrum often adjust their entire household in order to accommodate his/her needs and sometimes, forget to focus on their own self-care or struggle to make time for themselves.” (Gal, 2022)

 

Sometimes you need to slow down, take a deep breath, and allow someone else to take over the reins for a bit. By allowing yourself the time to recharge and refresh, you will become a more caring and patient parent, caregiver, and nurturer for your child.

 

Self-care is essential, not an indulgence. Taking care of yourself is known to help boost your immune system, increase your level of energy, and strengthen your overall emotional health. This includes getting enough sleep every night, staying hydrated, getting regular exercise, and yes, even spending time away from your kids. Julia Johnson Attaway in an article by the Child Mind Institute explains that:

 

“Avoiding parent burnout requires real effort. Experts note it includes consistent self-care, establishing a strong support network for yourself and having a trustworthy therapeutic team for your child.” (Preventing Parent Burnout, 2021)

 

Unfortunately, there are too many articles out there stating what could happen when you shoulder all the responsibility for your child all the time.

 

4 Ideas to Keep Your Child Busy During Summer

Summer is a great time to focus a bit more on YOU and your family, without having to place the needs of your special needs child above everyone and everything else. There are a number of different ways that your child with special needs can remain busy, cared for, and safely occupied.

  • Summer camps are one great option that you may want to consider to allow for this time to focus on YOU and the other members of your family. Many of these camps have an amazing staff who are well trained and are very excited and enthusiastic to be spending the summer with your child. I happen to know of such a sleepaway camp for children with special needs that has an amazing set of staff along with a full staff of therapists all set up to work with and provide a full range of therapy.
  • You may have family members and babysitters that you can rely on.
  • There may also be high school students within your neighborhood who volunteer to work with children with special needs as part of their school program. You can reach out to the local high schools around you.
  • There are other forms of respite care that may be available for your child. There is an organization called Access to Respite Care and Help (ARCH) which may offer what you are looking for. ARCH’s website includes an introduction to respite care and ways for parents to reach out to locate respite care by state as well as a list of funding sources. Located on this site is information related to types of respite, how to choose a provider, as well as more specific assistance for choosing children’s respite.

Whether it is a camp experience, respite services through your state or district, or having a volunteer high school girl or boy work with your child, you deserve a guilt-free break. It is healthy for your child to build relationships with different people and providers. You are not only giving your child a chance to be reliant on others and learn to communicate his/her needs to others, you are also giving others a chance to learn how to work with children with special needs. Many times, these relationships built over a summer break will last long into the rest the year.

So now start with one night off. Go schedule that date night, a night out with your other half or friends or just time spent on YOU. Go out and have fun!

 

“Self-care is your fuel... Whatever the road ahead or the path you’ve taken, self-care is what keeps your motor running and your wheels turning.”

— Melissa Steginus

 

 


References

ABCs of respite: A consumer guide for Family Caregivers. Consumer Information. (n.d.). https://archrespite.org/consumer-information

Gal, H. (2022, February 4). Should I Consider Respite Care for My Child with Autism? Autism Parenting Magazine.

Preventing parent burnout. Child Mind Institute. (2021, September 3). https://childmind.org/article/preventing-parent-burnout/

Special needs summer camps in New York. Summer Camps in New York For Individuals with Special Needs. (n.d.). https://www.veryspecialcamps.com/New-York/Special-Needs-Summer-Camps.shtml


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