This blog is usually intended for the loved ones, teachers, and caretakers of ADHD children.
But today, I want to include the people who love and care for all special needs children.
Because no matter what you’re dealing with, no matter what your child requires, you could probably use a break. And as you probably already know, it’s really, really difficult to find a babysitter when you have a special needs child.
Even if your child’s differences are physically visible, you still have to make sure the person taking care of them is fully qualified. Over qualified. That can be nearly impossible for a lot of people, especially when they don’t have family nearby to help.
As it turns out, there are a TON of programs around the country that help out families of children with special needs! Whether you need an occasional night off or consistent, everyday help, there’s probably something in your area that could help.
Here are some great examples:
1) Play centers that have designated times for special needs children.
“Jump Zone” in Bentonville, Arkansas, has certain evenings set aside each month for children with special needs to attend FOR FREE. They don’t ask any questions or examine your child(ren) on the way in the door; they just let you come and go as you need.
You can’t drop your kids off and go out for coffee, but you can let your kids run and play while you sit in the corner and relax. Events like this are a great way for kids with ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome, or any disorder/disability to socialize with kids like them. And if somebody has an over-the-top meltdown… no one’s going to think twice about it!
Heck, you’ll probably even find camaraderie and friendship in the other special needs caretakers there. It’s a great place for getting some of the kids’ energy out, and feeling “normal” for a little while.
(I cannot accurately represent how wonderful I think it is that Jump Zone hosts this event with free admission. A lot of these families have hefty medical/food expenses so any break they can get is great. Good job, Jump Zone.)
You can find their website here.
There’s also a company located in Joplin, Missouri, called Community Support Services that gets special needs children together on certain nights of the week to go bowling together. This would be another great way to get kids together and allow the parents to take a seat for a little while!
CSS also offers an annual summer camp for children with special needs (including those with milder symptoms like ADHD). You can reference their website for more information! You can find it here.
There are places like this in almost EVERY CITY ACROSS AMERICA!!! Do not be discouraged just because I’m not referencing your town. A quick google search for “special needs support” in your hometown would give you a lot of information.
If you can’t find what you need, reach out to me! I’d love to help.
2) Summer camps designed specifically for special needs children.
In Missouri, we have a place called Camp Barnabas, which provides week-long summer camps every year to special needs children (ages 7 and up) and adults. There are multiple locations across the state, but all of them give the family members of the camper to have a break.
The program also allows siblings of special needs students to participate! How cool is that? Double bonus for the parents.
You can find out more about Camp Barnabas here.
If you live in another state (which a lot of you probably do), then you can use veryspecialcamps.com to find a summer camp near you.
They break down camps by location, as well as by the particular needs/diagnosis of the child. You can find almost every state (and some regions of Canada) on that resource website!
3) Support services provided through local special needs companies.
There are support agencies for special needs families all across the world. They give families/caretakers necessary breaks away from life, or they can even help with everyday support, depending on the level of need. The workers are all experienced, professional people who know how to work with your children!
My nearest and dearest friend, Danica Morgan, is a part of a company here called Preferred Community Services. They provide services “to individuals with developmental disabilities, ranging from 2-3 hours per week, to 24 hours per day.”
They can assist with cooking, cleaning, hygiene, paying bills, or anything else a special needs individual/family needs. This is one of the most practical and efficient ways for family members to get breaks!
You can reach PCS here.
(Like I said, these companies are everywhere! Now that you know they exist, you can start looking for some in your area.)
4) Specially trained caregivers through Care.com.
Yes, you can search specifically for caretakers who are trained in special needs areas! You can even search for sitters who’ve completed background checks, who are state certified, and who have experience with the particular special needs field you’re looking for.
Depending on your location, choices may be limited, but it still doesn’t hurt to look. Options are options, right?
For those of you who’ve found other ways to rest and recuperate, share your ideas with us! We all need breaks sometimes. Anything you can do to help out your fellow special needs families would be greatly appreciated.
Good luck and good resting, my friends!