Tips on Respite Strategies for Families Caring for Children with Special Needs
1. Be Kind to Yourself.
Talk to yourself the way you would a friend. Engage in compassionate self-talk, building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. Do something nice for yourself every day. Some examples might include daily affirmations, stepping outside into the sunshine or having a healthy treat. The Unique Daily Affirmations app is easy to use, providing a daily affirmation to the use . https://www.uniquedailyaffirmations.com
2. Ask for Help.
Allow yourself to believe in the idea that it takes a village. This can mean asking a family member or friend to provide childcare to allow for self-care. There are also many government and privately funded respite services that provide support in both home and community settings. Access to Respite Care and Help (ARCH) has a national respite network that helps families find state specific services. www.archrespite.org
3. Find your Tribe
Seek support from other parents with similar experiences. This can be in the form of a support group or by planning regular group activities with other families. The Asperger/Autism Network (AANE) has resources for virtual support groups and community connection sessions. https://www.aane.org/resources/family-and-friends/support-groups-parents-children-teens/
4. Gratitude Journaling.
During difficult moments it is common to focus on what isn’t going well. Gratitude journaling creates a daily opportunity to recognize and celebrate milestones no matter the size. An extension of journaling is to write down one positive recognition every day of the year, placing them in a jar. At the end of the year, take time to read them all. It’s an amazing activity that helps remind us of all the good things that happened throughout the year.
Research has shown that even 10 minutes of meditation a day can help control stress. This can be done on your schedule. What matters the most is making space for the activity daily. Practice over time yields results. There are many apps available including Headspace. https://www.headspace.com/
Dr. Charna Mintz, Ph.D., BCBA-D is currently the Chief Clinical Office for Action Behavior Centers serving children and families across Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. Dr. Mintz has served as president of the Washington Association for Behavior Analysis and co-chair of that organization’s legislative committee, which sponsored a behavior analyst licensure bill that was passed into law in 2015. She just completed her presidency with APBA and continues to serve as an active board member.
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This Article is adapted from PSN Magazine; 11/2009 and appeared on our November/December 2021 Magazine