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: