By Sandra Brese Rice
Bethesda Lutheran Communities
For many families the summer is a time for vacations, outdoor free-play and fun. For some parents, however, it is a time of much-needed prayer. Parents and people who care for children with autism have mentioned to me how difficult the summer can be for them. Children with disabilities are used to routine and many thrive on schedules, patterns and details. Without the routines followed in school, summer can be quite a challenge for families as they reteach the rules they need to use each summer at home.
From the first day of summer break, parents feel the added stress of an immediate additional attention to detail. For working parents, setting up supports at home that follow a strict schedule can be difficult, especially if they are relying on a teenage babysitter.
How easy it is for those of us who do not find this situation at home to move on with our lives without giving these families a second thought. I’m not saying we don’t care; we do! I’m not saying we don’t love them dearly; we do, but it is a bit like the common thought of a grandparent…we play with them, have a good time, and when we are exhausted, we get to go home.
A Facebook comment to my friend/mom Erin, said that someone was making a conscious effort to pray for her & her family each and every day. Awesome! There is nothing better than prayer.
What else can we do as a community to reach out to those who are stressed, tired and worried already?
- If you live near by and have time, consider committing to a regular visit, maybe story time, to help give parents a break.
- At evening, could you show up for a time to go for a walk? It would be exercise for you and a routine that may help parents in more ways than one.
- Do you have the technology to do FaceTime or Skype at a certain time each day or night? The regular visit may give some balance.
- Can you help with preparing dinner or even clean-up? Could you organize this with others willing to help?
- Can you give a night off and offer to sit for free?
- Can you show up once a week and do laundry?
- Can you cut the grass, do the weeding, wash the car?
Turning to the experts:
As a parent or someone who cares for a child with autism, what suggestions do you have for new parents facing the summer?
As someone from the community, what could I be doing?