Grammy and Papa are getting ready to watch after our Little Princess and Little Ninja while Mom and Dad get away for a little vacation. It’s time for them to recoup their energies for the wonderful task of caring for their special needs daughters.
OK, let’s backtrack a bit. This first topic is about Respite Care Part one because this is an ongoing need --- The absolute need for parents to have some time away from the responsibilities of caring for their children with special needs so they can recap their energies, their own personal relationship to each other, and just have some fun. Well honestly speaking, parents need a break even if their children are not of special needs. But that is not what our blog is about.
To get started let’s introduce ourselves and tell you a little bit about our unique housing situation. Grammy (Sharon) and Papa (David) live in ‘the big house’. We are Great Grandparents of Little Princess and Little Ninja. We have a family care house (the little house) just behind us that was originally built for Papa’s mother back in the early 90’s. When she passed on to the other side, our son – now Grandpa Ken, moved into the house with his two children. He had lost his wife in a car accident and his son Andrew (Little Princess and Little Ninja’s Dad) was only 4 at the time. Now, many years later, Andrew, Dani (Crochet Critter), Little Princess, and Little Ninja live in ‘the little house’. Of course, we had to add bedroom extensions for the expanding family. This gives the home environment on the property for a unique respite care situation.
It is important for children with special needs to be comfortable and familiar with their caregivers and the surroundings. It is also important that the caregivers are competent, loving, and understanding of the special traits of the children. What causes a melt down, what foods they will eat, when they need squeezes and hugs, and when they just need some space to gather themselves are all things that come up in a care giving situation.. And naturally, there is the added anxiety that their routine with Mom and Dad has been disrupted. There is so much here to share that it will take several blog posts to tell you and hopefully give you some tips and support so you know that you are not alone to confront some of these situations. Of course, the posts by me, Grammy, talking about respite care are views through the eyes of a loving caregiver – Mom can give you the details from the eyes of a parent. So my posts will mainly be related to respite care situations, the joys and the challenges that come up and how we hopefully deal with them.
Well, you had one clue in the above paragraph, that Papa and I are the great grandparents, yes we are elderly, 75 and 68 respectively. But we are still full of vim and vinegar. We have to be to keep up with Little Princess and Little Ninja. But we have had lots of experience and patience helping with the care of our own children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren. This is the first time we were blessed with the opportunity to give love and care to someone with special needs, in this case, our great granddaughters on the autism spectrum.
We had to rearrange our home quite a bitand see how we blocked off the fireplace with portable pet fencing for safety. Little Princess age 4 and Little Ninja age 3 don’t understand fireplaces are hot and hurt, and for our own sanity we don’t want them getting into the kitchen or by the TV or into my knit workshop rooms with all the cottage industry equipment. We put upper lock hooks on the bathroom (Little Princess thinks the kittie litter box is a ‘sensor bucket’ sand box and yes she finds interesting treasures in there --- but we want to eliminate that experience). Hooks are also on the computer room door and our bedroom where we have our medicines securely out of their range. But they have lots of room to run and play in the living room, hall, and the bedroom set up especially for them when they are in our care. And they have access to the locked rooms with supervision. We also keep all doors to the outside locked whenever the girls are here. Since both children are flight risks, we have also installed an outside fence around our property.
Now, you may be saying “Why don’t you just teach them – No – Don’t touch”. You just try that with two children on the autism spectrum. They do know the word ‘No’ and if you can get them to ‘look’ at you so you have their attention, they will listen. Little Princess does not respond to her name. She lives in her happy land of fairies and princesses a lot of the time. She has been diagnosed with Classic Autism 1 with Sensory Processing Disorder. Little Ninja, as her name applies shows signs of High Functioning Autism and in my view is very OCD. When she enter our home, she runs to make sure all the doors are shut that are supposed to be and will drag the living room fencing into position like a good little Ninja. Let’s also be honest, we cannot have our eyes on both of them 24/7 so we feel the safety net we put in place helps us as well as them. J It allows them to play freely in a safe environment.
OK, now you have an idea for the setting for this part of the Autism Blog to take place. Tune in for part two, when the vacation for Mom and Dad begins, and our adventure with Little Princess and Little Ninja starts later this week. (I must admit this is not the first time we have cared for them, we have been helping since their birth so they are very familiar with us and our home, but there are still daily challenges, tips, and triumphs which we will share with you.
Until Then, have a great day and if you are a caregiver of a special needs person, know you are appreciated and your service is in great need.
RESOURCES: Visit Rowell Family Empowerment for Northern California. Their respite care program is free for parents/caregivers of special need people if you qualify for their services. That’s where Crochet Critter got started gathering information on programs to help her children for early intervention.