The experience of having a child with special needs intensifies the challenges of parenthood. In addition to typical parental stressors, other forms of pressure unique to their child’s care are involved. For example, multiple medical and rehabilitation appointments, behavioural concerns, financial difficulties, accessibility issues, etc. Eating, taking them to school or day programs, going to multiple appointments (PT, OT, speech therapy, doctors, etc.), attending recreational activities and volunteering- It can become TOO MUCH!

Respite prevents burnout and allows families to maintain regular schedules. Once a child is born, this child becomes the parents’ whole life. All their energy and attention is focused on giving them the best life possible that the parents forget to self-care. But the benefits of respite are numerous; stress reduction is a main one! Respite increases the capacity to handle day to day life and ultimately has a positive emotional impact. Reality is, life can become overwhelming at times, especially in the case of single parents or parents with multiple children. Oh, if only the story ended here! On top of all of that, society adds additional stressors given all the unrealistic expectations placed on parents. Parents are expected to be superheroes, essentially to be on top of everything; to care for their children, provide all the necessities of life and more for them (hello, cell phones!), ensure they are educated, polite, happy, safe, smell nice, and have a secure and successful future. If this isn’t the most stressful thing in the world, I don’t know what is. Fact is, parents need some time for themselves. They need an outlet to de-stress and pay some attention to their own wellbeing.

Now just imagine…

…A support worker picking up your child from school or a day program while you finish an entire day’s worth of work.

…A trusted worker taking your child to his or her recreational activities while you go out for coffee with some friends that you haven’t see in a while because you just couldn’t find the time (or while you cook for the other child, prep lunches for tomorrow, do laundry, and the million other things on your roster).

Support workers provide parents with some piece of mind. Kids have so much energy and are always in need of attention, no matter how old they are. It can be very draining. Seeking a support worker to aid in giving some of that attention to the children while parents focus on other equally important tasks is crucial. Depending on what goals parents have for their children, support workers can help with that. Some parents want their children to work on social skills, or make new connection, or learn specific things. Through a support worker, children can be exposed to various social interactions to help develop their social skills. Moreover, the whole family can gain a trusted friend, and the children could find a friend and mentor in their support worker. Finally, support workers could help work on some of the goals set for the children, they can teach them some life skills and help with school work, and overall, provide that continuity of care we are all looking to achieve.

Written By Manel, Resident Blogger at ENABLE.