Oh, respite care, how I love thee. Let me count the ways!
It normalizes the “special” out of special needs; when you see more kids who are moving/communicating/behaving/eating/playing like you, you're not so different from everyone after all.
Everyone needs to feel they belong somewhere.
It gives my daughters and I a chance to do things my son can't do – and I don't feel guilty about either a) refusing to go anywhere where he can't play, or b) bringing him to places he won't have fun in because he can't participate in the activities.
He plays with friend peers and genuinely has a good time while we do something we genuinely enjoy.
Everyone is happy! How often can you say that about all your kids?
Respite care also allows me some breathing room away from the constant “on call” nature of special needs parenting. I can choose to read a book, uninterrupted, run errands at my own pace, do everything or nothing at all, and do it with a clean conscience; my son is under the care of professionals and he will be taken care of.
I have nothing to worry about!
It provides an environment in which my son can move around as he sees fit (walking on his knees), without neurotypical kids watching him intently, or making comments about how he gets around.
That seems like a small thing, but it's not.
Wherever we go, we get questions as to why he moves like he does.
Or worse, he gets comments from children even younger than him that he is “a baby” because he can't walk.
That is very frustrating to my son. And while I don't mind answering the questions (advocates need to educate, after all), it is nice to have a break from it.
And for my son to have a break from being watched. All. The. Time.
Lastly, the trained volunteers at our respite care facility love to be there.
We all know that when you find a vocation that suits you, you're more dedicated to it. And playing alongside the kids genuinely makes them happy!
They get to see kids being kids; having fun however they want, with no expectation of the outcome.
Respite care is a win for everyone!