Sunday, March 21, 2010

Help Wanted - Katie, call me! :)

Where do you find babysitters and "helpers" for your child with special needs? I've asked friends, neighbors, folks at church, people on facebook, parents of players on my son's baseball team, school staff, college professors, you name it, I've asked. Again and again.

I seem to be constantly looking for a "helper" or sitter. Agencies have been pretty useless.

Today, my homeschool princess (the child with an autism spectrum disorder) and I were shopping at a warehouse club after a family fun day event at a nearby university. The family fun day featured a gym full of bouncy thingies, a sensory room, an arts and crafts room, and tables of vendors and resources for all of us. (We skipped the swimming session.)

ANYway, the princess was tired, and she became cranky and a bit screechy at me in the warehouse club. (Her upset was partly my fault, because she wanted a handheld game cover and video game set, which I put into the cart, and told her she had to wait until Easter for it, and she began to tell me she would have it now. In the warehouse club, we tasted tested some brightly colored Sunkist fruit chews - I have to wonder if the dyes in the fruit chews set her off - they're high in phenols. We were having a good time, and then all of a sudden, my girl morphed into a cranky stranger about halfway through our shopping trip.)

The princess looks like a total brat when she does that - we haven't seen the brattiness in public very often lately. She a pain in the bottom when she behaves like that. I managed to stay calm and regulated myself today. (Yeah, me!)

So, a very nice lady pushed her cart past us and smiled at my princess and suggested gently that she not give her mother such a hard time.

The princess was startled. *giggle* (You should have seen her face. *grin*)

However, a suggestion from a stranger could go either way for her. It could jolt her into a moment of better self-regulation and calm her down, or it could send her emotions and anxiety soaring and make it worse.

Today, it did neither - my princess stayed in about the same "amount" of upset. (I was glad my girl's emotions and upset didn't escalate. As much as I despise those moments in public, I am glad to see my girl manage that, today. That's progress.)

So, to make my long story short, I told the nice lady that my girl has autism, and she told me that she has a family member who is studying to teach children with autism. I asked if she needs a job - community living support, respite, babysitting, etc - and I gave her my information to pass along to the young lady looking for a job. And I included my blog addy. Maybe she'll peek here.

I hope she calls me. Her name is Katie. Or if she's not interested, maybe she knows someone who is. Psst: Katie, call me! :)


Wendy Hilton said...

Penny, I can SO understand what you're going through!! I went through the same thing for many years until I finally found someone (through an agency--surprise surprise) that my autistic daughter and the rest of the family all love. Needless to say we try to treat her VERY nicely and are hoping she will stick with us for a looooong time. It certainly was a huge relief to the entire family since I can't leave my daughter with anyone except folks who have been trained to stay with her. I pray that you can find someone for your daughter too.

Dani G said...

We found our favorite babysitter at the gym. She worked in the day care center and has actually been watching my bird since she was 10 months old! I've also had some great luck with Friendship Circle volunteers. PLEASE tell me you're involved in FC. It would be such a shame if you weren't.
Might even behoove you to put up a flyer at some of the therapy centers like Abilities or Kaufman- I bet they have students going in there all the time looking for clinical work/credits.
Alright, that's all I can think of off the top of my head!

I hope Katie calls!

Penny said...

Dani, thanks for reminding me about Friendship Circle.

Friendship Circle activities never fit into our schedule when Little Bit was younger. Seems like their activities for her age group were at the same time as our Sunday School and Wed night church activities.

Now that she's older, I need to look again - although, from what I hear, the activities begin to early for us (some begin at 4pm, I was told by another parent, and I have a child that doesn't get off the bus until nearly 4:30 pm)

Do they have year round activities?

PaintCrazy said...

I stole our best babysitter ever from a daycare too. We had her for 3 years before she got married and moved to CA. When she came back I gave her just enough time to give birth to her own baby and get settled in and she had my two back again off and on for another 3 years. Now my almost 13 year old daughter is babysitting for HER kids and my son still goes over to her house when I have no other options. I sure hope Katie calls you!

Debbie said...

I hope she works out for you! Our church has a monthly Respite Care night for special needs children and their siblings. I helped with it for several years. We had many children with autism participate. Do you have that option in your area?

Penny said...

Katie e-mailed - was too late to call.


Debbie, I wish we had a respite thing like that - the closest thing we have is Buddy Break, and it's a Saturday morning. We usuallly have other things going on then, so it doesn't turn out to be a date morning - although it is a fun time for the princess.

The Glasers said...

Penny, do you want the ugly truth?

In Pennsyvlania (we moved away when Pamela was 10), we found one babysitter (she was a very mature homeschooler) but only went out a couple of times. After that, we did not find anyone until David was old enough to be home alone . . . so I had to "grow" my own babysitter!

When we went on our cruise last month, that was the first time Steve and I went together somewhere without kids overnight. The last time was 1994 when we went to an ASA convention in Vegas.

It really is a problem for families of special needs kids!

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