Tag Archives: Family Day Out
My name is Emily Padora and I am interning with Easter Seals Greater Houston this Spring. A few months ago, I had the privilege of putting together activities for our campers to do at Family Day Out. Since it was so close to Valentine’s Day, I related the entire day to all things Valentine-y. We started out the day dyeing rice red, pink, and purple to mix together for a fun sensory item to play with. Then, we all gathered together in the gym for an exciting game of ‘Musical Hearts’, where we made silly faces and performed fun movements. Later, we relaxed with a snack and short Valentine’s Day kid-friendly video. We ended the day with some playtime outside, where some campers decided to engage in a fun game of baseball, some ran around with their awesome volunteers, and others just chilled out by the swings. ESGH Family Day Out is meant to be a fun and safe environment for children with disabilities and their siblings to hangout on a Saturday morning while their parents and/or caregivers can take some time to themselves. We put together a fun-packed schedule for campers that allows for room to engage in activities that interest them. I loved being a part of the FDO program and I look forward to the next one!
Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern
Family Day Out is a center-based Respite service that provides respite care on Saturdays to families of children ages 6-14 with all types of disabilities. Our son, Brandon, and the other children benefit from arts and crafts, games, and playground activities and receive one-on-one assistance from volunteers. As parents we benefit greatly with much needed time to get caught up on anything we may need to get done (paperwork, house work …the list goes on) or even have a much needed day date! (Dates are far and in between!) Family Day Out also gives us much needed one-on-one time with our daughter. Children that have siblings with disabilities often don’t get as much attention due to the high demand kids with disabilities require. It’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with siblings.
What we love most about Family Day Out is that our son is able to spend time with volunteers, staff, and friends that over the years have gotten to know and love him. Each session is also staffed by a nurse and a center director. It’s somewhere he feels 100% accepted and has tons of fun.
We are so grateful to have been able to look forward to at least one Saturday several months a year that Brandon will be well taken care of while having fun so we can have time to ourselves, guilt-free. This September will be a sad one since the Family Day Out program is only able to accommodate kids through 14 years old at this time and Brandon turns 15 at the end of September.
We also participate in Easter Seals’ Respite Voucher Program which allows us to select our own childcare provider for in-home care. These hours allow us to run errands and take a much-needed break while Brandon is with someone we know and trust to care for him. As Brandon has gotten older the respite hours to use at our leisure have become as much of a blessing as Family Day Out. Qualified sitters (those who can handle meltdowns, behavior issues, etc.) for children with disabilities have a much higher rate than typical sitters so the respite hour vouchers help tremendously when funds are already tight.
My husband, Doug, and I welcomed our wonderful son, Duncan, after our 39th birthdays. Having met at 21, we’d spent the better part of two decades dining at the best “cheap eats” in Houston, taking weekend jaunts in Texas, exercising daily, and enjoying the occasional happy hour. Quite simply, we appreciated the benefits of living as DINKS (double-income, no kids).
So along came our beautiful baby. Overnight, our lives transformed in rewarding and challenging ways I never could have imagined. Of course, this is true for any new parent, but there exists an additional anxiety, concern and effort when you care for a child with special needs. Doctors’ appointments, therapy, testing, tutoring, special-ed meetings, financial challenges, and countless hours of online research: It’s just plain exhausting.
So, when we heard about the Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program, Parents’ Night Out, we were cautiously optimistic. We were happily surprised at its affordability: $10 for four hours of babysitting by Easter Seals’ skilled volunteers and staff. But, we know our son. He is fearful of new situations, despite having attended summer camps with Easter Seals Greater Houston. Bless his heart, he is visually impaired, has epilepsy and CP, so who could blame him?
Our concerns were unfounded and he made fast friends at Parents’ Night Out. The volunteers exemplify patience and understanding, each offering a weekend night to care for our son, later telling us how much they enjoy Duncan! Six months later, he asks to attend the “babysitting place” nearly every Friday night. Doug and I have actually seen three movies and been out to dinner twice during the last six weeks! That reconnection is critical with the added stress of our days.
-Catherine Graham, Respite Program client parent
“I can’t believe she is gone. Lynne was my wonderful friend and also a friend to Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program. Even though it was hard for her to tear herself away from her job she loved so much, she always joined us for our annual Christmas Party. As a social worker for 40 years, I have encountered many healers whose hearts were big and who made a difference. But Lynne stood out at the top. She helped me see what really mattered, to examine our values and our hearts. No one can take her place. No one. My life was touched by her in a way that will be with me forever.”
Lynne served as a devoted Clinical Director at the Occupational Therapy Center in Houston, TX for over 30 years. Lynne will be greatly missed; however, she will never be forgotten.
A memorial service for Lynne C. Tupper will be held on Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at 2:00pm at St. Phillip United Methodist Church – 5501 Beechnut St. (At Renwick) Houston, TX 77096.
I had some time to think last night at the hotel, and these are my thoughts of Thankfulness for Easter Seals Greater Houston– having given my husband and I a “respitality” voucher (a donated nights stay at a hotel) thanks to the generosity of Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental. I’m not sure how we were chosen, but I am so very thankful we were. We’ve had that respite voucher for quite a number of months… I’ve known it was sitting in my planner for a most desperate time when the stars would align for us to have childcare and be able to use it. My first thoughts about it, is that so often when I’m at the end of my rope, when I think I can’t face another seizure, another moment, I would think of that as my sort of lifeline. “Well, if I can just get through until relatives come to visit, we can use that “golden ticket” to get away. We planned to use it when Team Guppy 1.0 came. But then the other side of that “respite break” is that because we are so isolated, when they were here, we had such a good time getting to actually enjoy them and their company and their help – and because they were here we got to do little Kayak trips daily and get away — we were so enjoying that, which we have been craving just as much as respite, that I forgot all about that “golden ticket” in my planner. I was cleaning out my planner the other day and saw that respite voucher at the hotel and saw that it expired this weekend so I had to use it. We didn’t have anyone here to stay the night with Brandon, and Todd is going to see Matt for Thanksgiving in a couple weeks, so I booked the room as a chance to stock up on some sleep! 🙂 It was wonderful — I did sleep. I planned to do so much reading and Bible study, and did some, but mostly, just slept. Most mornings I wake up tired because I’m always getting up for something — letting the dog out, checking Brandon, etc. But with nothing there to do, I could actually sleep, and I woke up early enough, and refreshed enough to have my free breakfast that came with the room, and to come back home and go to church with Todd and Brandon. It was just amazing what uninterrupted sleep can do. And I think what was part of the refreshing part — is that while at home, it’s not that the work is “hard” in the sense that it’s physically draining (well, aside from seizures) it’s that it is constant. It is a constant state of interruption. A constant state of having to do multiple things at once, while being constantly interrupted in all of them. In cooking, I’m not only cooking our food, but Brandon’s ketogenic diet food. While cooking two meals, it’s redirecting Brandon to not use hands in eating his snacks. It’s cooking, redirecting, and then stopping to clean spilled whatever. Stopping all that for the potty schedule routine. Then it’s the coming back and trying to pick up where you left off. In our eating, it’s constantly checking Brandon, if he wandered off, or if he’s in the tub to make sure no seizure, no drowning. It’s just the “constant” of having a severely affected highly energetic and mobile child who needs constant supervision/redirection. I thought about whether I had “fun” getting away and it wasn’t really about that. Fun, to me, would have been going Kayaking with Todd. Hiking with him. Sitting on the beach with him. Yeah, the romantic part of having a hotel room with my hubby would have been fun — but what our “Life with Autism” steals the most, is that ability to go places and do things together. When we have an opportunity to have help with Brandon, we want to run 1,000 miles an hour with our hair on fire. Respite to us, is to have a place for Brandon to go, so that for a day we can do those things. Brandon needs a place to go, things to do, just as much as we do. But our life with autism and how he is affected by it makes that have to be two separate things for us. No way we would want to be in the middle of Offat’s Bayou with Brandon in a kayak having a seizure, or deciding he wants to get up, or OUT. LOL This respite opportunity was what my body needed – and I’m so thankful to Easter Seals and Marriott for giving that to me. It didn’t work out for both of us to benefit, but I am very thankful I could! Family members and friends of those living “Life with Autism” — consider giving them a voucher for hotel stay for a night. Just the chance for them to go sleep! If there is no childcare for both parents to attend, at least like us, one of us could! Offer to stay the night for them, or if that is too uncomfortable for the parents, offer to stay during the day so they can do do something together. It’s just such a great need. Churches, like the YMCA’s and other places do, if you know of those in your congregation that have a child with autism, allow use of your building for respite so the child can go somewhere and the parents can enjoy their house distraction and interruption free! Like this was for us, it’s not always going to be the perfect scenario – but we must do something – and I am so thankful that Easter Seals had that voucher for families to use. I am so thankful for Church of Champions having respite days at their church so we can have somewhere for Brandon to go while we do errands together or just enjoy our house in peace. I am so thankful for Graceview Baptist Church and other churches who offer such programs as well as Easter Seals Houston’s Family Day Out and Parent Night Out. Our kids need fun as much as parents need sleep! I know so many parents who would covet such a “Golden Ticket” to know they have when they feel they can’t go any longer without a break. Please, give to Easter Seals Greater Houston for the purpose of respite vouchers at hotels. These churches I mentioned, and others, donate to them specifically for their respite programs — to pay staff if they need to hire help, or to pay expenses or supplies. Or kids need places other than home or school to go to just as much as parents need a quiet room and a good nights sleep. These are the gifts that are needed for families this Christmas. And all year-long.
If you haven’t read From PalParent’s Blog you should – we hear this over and over again….
Caregivers of children and adult with disabilities or a disabling heath condition need so much more: more services, more community, more money, more time, more patience, more perseverance, and more of themselves. Often there is just not enough to go around with the 24 hour/365 day constant demands on their time and energy. They are just like you and I – they want to provide for their family, have a career, see their child go to school, put groceries on the table. As a social worker running Respite Services with Easter Seals Greater Houston for twenty-one years, I have a long history of interactions with parents and caregivers who are telling me, in no uncertain terms, I do not have any more left to give. So like the PAL Blog – When Enough is Enough?
Only this week, I received a call for respite services and other assistance from a mother with a 2-year-old with Spina Bifida, a neurological condition which left the child paralyzed below the waist. The dad left the family never to return, and is now living in another state and paying no child support. The grandmother recently underwent heart surgery and had an anoxic episode in the hospital, leaving her with permanent brain damage. The mother, Mary, has a great job, and obviously needs her salary to support her family, pay her bills, put food on the table. She has HAD to use all her vacation and sick time – and was in jeopardy of losing her job as a secretary. Her young child requires urinary catheterization every six hours. For those who have not experienced this, it is not enough medical assistance to require a full-time nurse, but enough of a medical intervention that day care programs are unable to accommodate. Programs which can provide support for this mom, such as the MDCP Program (Medically Dependent Children’s Program) have a waiting list in excess of 5 years and currently have over 22,000 waiting for these essential services. To say our caregivers need more is an understatement. More support, more programs to help in situations like this, more respect, more understanding AND our community saying “Enough Is Enough”.
With the help of Easter Seals Greater Houston Respite Program and The United Way Greater Houston, Mary was able to be helped at least for the short-term. Mary is in process of interviewing four providers who will be able to do the care, until a more long-term solution can be found. Mary was persistent and diligent and found her help and support. Will it be enough? For her hopefully; for others….maybe not. The only solution is through advocacy and education of our policy makers to prioritize funding so that Mary, and thousands like her, will have enough – enough services and supports so she can have the rights we all have – the right to provide for her family, to keep her family together, the right to keep her son at home and the right to employment. Now, Mary has her son at home and she kept her job and is not dependent on government subsidies. What support will be there for her with her next crisis? Enough is NOT enough.