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When is the last time you got a break from your child with autism? If you can't remember, you may be headed for burnout.

Many parents with children on the autism spectrum are overwhelmed. It's not just about juggling therapists, managing an increasingly tight budget, or fighting for services. It's also about hour after hour after hour of being there for a child who needs you almost every minute of the day. You may also be coping with your child's aggressive behaviors; sleeplessness; hyperactivity; overwhelming sensory issues; and even physical disorders like gastrointestinal distress.

And it's not as if most parents of autistic children can just call a sitter - or even ask their own parents for help. Many people who would ordinarily be glad to spend time with your child are, frankly, scared of autism. Others simply don't have the skills or understanding to be there for your child. Parents of children with autism are understandably picky about who stays with a child who could bolt out the door, take off their clothes, or otherwise create chaos.

Some parents are not dealing with such extreme situations. Others have family members who are willing and able to hold down the fort for a few hours. For the many who don't have those options, though, parental mental health may be on the line. That's where respite care comes in.

This article defines respite care, and offers some tips for parents on how to know when you need it, how to find it, and how to pay for it. Need a little more help? Check out these articles offering support for parents:

Are you a parent who's made use of respite care? Where did you find it? Did it make a difference in your life? Please share your experiences!
July 5, 2007 at 9:44 am
(1) mcewen says:

We qualify for the maximum allowance of respite care [2 boys]. Our difficulty is that the quality of staff on offer to ‘babysit’ our children falls far short of what I consider to be the minimum requirement i.e. parking them in front of the television doesn’t qualify in my book.

July 5, 2007 at 10:09 am
(2) Sandy says:

Along with Respite Care, is PCA (Personal Care Attendant) each state calls them something different but along the lines of PCA. those hours are federally paid for those whose children are on SSI and get medicaid. PCA’s do for the child probably more than what A Respite would, and often deal with self help and behavioral plans.

just another option for those out there

December 11, 2009 at 11:46 pm
(3) Roberta says:

I want to open an autism respite care center with the max of 7 children, where should I begin when writing for a grant.

July 17, 2010 at 4:06 pm
(4) heda says:

I’m currently earning my special credential. I am interested in working for respite care in the Houston area. Can anyone inform me who, or which agency, can I contact to work with children with special needs, such as austism, please? 8D

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