Monday, August 03, 2009

respite care: teen autism & special needs

Recently a father emailed me about day care for a teenage son diagnosed with autism. I wish I had a better answer to give than only suggest a method to search for local resources.

Opening our Sunday paper, I was surprised to find this front page story:

“Finding a sitter for a special needs individual, child or adult, is often impossible,”
In the news story, a parent whose son is diagnosed with autism and mental retardation touches a poignant and pragmatic aspect of special needs respite, helping to prepare transition.

Finding genuine respite may be like finding the Holy Grail for families living with special needs.

From my view, most available activities and programs seem to require a parent in attendance from accompanying a Pennsylvania Department of Mental Retardation aide to Easter Seals social activities such as bowling, swimming, and cooking.

Whether technically respite or not, certainly there is camaraderie to such activities and parent to parent contact, support, and information exchange are invaluable.

Inquiring minds might notice that United Cerebral Palsy hosts the respite center and Easter Seals sponsors the social activities. Googling “teen autism” locally may not even find these resources easily.

Summertime amplifies need because special education takes a vacation.

Summertime traditions may as well be a parallel universe.
 These are teens and young adults that cannot be dropped off at a pool or amusement park. Camps for special needs are far and few and expensive.

It takes somehow finding the time in a day with no time to mine for gold through the fragments of local information available.

More media attention on caring resources is a special need we all share.
Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. I love the photo, you can see the pleasure.

  2. perhaps the media needs to prioritize what they consider newsworthy stories; sharing a beer in my opinion is not; finding resources that are invaluable and can give a higher degree of quality to a family's life is newsworthy. maybe one day the media will change focus

    loved the picture of Jennifer/Tyler; they looked like it was a pleasurable fun adventure


  3. I agree with Betty, our media has its priorities all screwed up. Small things make a big difference. I wish I could scream at the media: STEP UP


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