Everyone in our family benefits from time away from the demands of parenting a child with special needs, to rest and recharge.
As parents of kids with ADHD, we try to reinforce positive behavior by catching our children being good; making good choices, behaving in a positive manner. Since I’m sometimes quick to criticize the individuals or institutions that work with Natalie, I thought it was time I caught them being good too! So, in that spirit, I’d like to commend the developers of Iowa's Children’s Mental Health Waiver for allowing recipient families the option to choose their own respite providers.
Through the Waiver, our family is allotted a certain number of hours per month of respite; time away from the demands of parenting a child with special needs, to rest and recharge, and in our case, to devote some time and attention to our non-ADHD son, Aaron.
For Natalie, it’s a chance to escape from her crab-apple mom, and to receive positive, one-on-one attention from other adults.
Natalie has some problems with separation anxiety, so time away could easily be a negative rather than a positive, in her mind. In an effort to make respite as pleasurable for Natalie as it is for me, I hand-pick the adults who care for her. Right now, we’re blessed to have four fantastic people registered with The Respite Connection, to work with Natalie: Natalie’s Aunt Ann (my older sister), Natalie’s cousin Hannah (my 20 year old niece), Natalie’s former daycare teacher Allie, and Nat’s former occupational therapist, Summer.
Summer joined the crew most recently. After cutting back the number of days she works in order to spend more time with her toddler son, and after Natalie’s discharge from services negated issues with professional boundaries, Summer said she’d be open to providing some occasional childcare. Her son would enjoy having a playmate, she said, and she could earn some extra money without taking time away from him. How about providing respite, I suggested. She talked it over with her husband, researched what it would take as far as training and time commitment, and finally applied. Natalie spent the afternoon with Summer and her family on Sunday, for the first time, and had a fantastic time.
“Did you like playing with Emmett?” I asked. “I LOVE Emmett!” Natalie replied.
Two members of our family, a much-loved young teacher, a skilled, caring professional--we couldn’t be luckier. I couldn’t possibly feel any better about how Natalie spends her time, or with whom she spends it, while our family takes time for respite.
So, many thanks to the folks at the Iowa Department of Human Services for allowing me to choose people who Natalie already knows and loves to provide our family’s respite. You’ve been caught being good!