Getting Respite Care When You Need It
Caring for any child can be exhausting. However, parenting a child with autism or other special needs can be especially challenging. It can feel like a full-time, 24/7 job, and in many ways it is.
Kids have legitimate needs that require love, attention and care . . . but so do you.
Before you burn out or near a breaking point emotionally, physically or mentally, it’s important to explore options available that can help alleviate some of the pressure. Getting a “caregiving break” for as little as one hour per week can help reduce high levels of stress. Fortunately, there are caregiver support resources available to help. They’re called “respite” services. A respite is, literally, a break.
A break can be used for many things, be it taking care of your home; attending doctor appointments, family events, school or work; studying; or spending time with other family members. In some cases, respite care also can be used to support your child if he or she is receiving ABA-based therapy. If that’s the case, the respite professional can help teach skills that support the therapy while giving you a short break as the primary caregiver.
How to Get Respite Care Services
Securing respite services is easy. There are trained, licensed service providers that specialize in providing respite support to caregivers of children with special needs.
In California, parents can contact their local Regional Center, which is affiliated with the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Regional Centers coordinate access to state-funded respite services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism and related conditions.
If your child is assessed and diagnosed with a qualifying disability, the Regional Center will authorize respite care services. The state defines developmental disability as “intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other conditions similar to intellectual disability that require treatment similar to a person with intellectual disability.”
The state will pay for respite care services for people at any income level as long as the need for services is demonstrated. The number of hours authorized is dependent on the particular case or need, but is typically 30 hours per month. Parents also can obtain respite care services directly from a service provider and pay for them as needed.
It’s Okay to Ask for a Break
If you’re facing caregiver burnout or simply would benefit from a break to take care of family or personal needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Respite care is there when you need it, and helps ensure your own emotional and physical well-being so you can continue to care for your child as the primary caregiver day to day.
If you think respite services can help you and your family, you can explore the options by scheduling a complimentary 30-minute phone or in-person consultation. We’ll help you determine respite services most appropriate for you and can assist you with next steps in the process. Learn more about our respite services.
To identify and contact your local Regional Center, visit https://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/RCList.cfm.