Sunday, September 4, 2011

What is respite, habilitation & attendance care

Ok, lets set this out on the line.  I want to define these services and then give examples of how/why they might be useful to you as a parent.

Respite: this is defined as short term relief.  This is a person that was chosen by you and paid by the government provides "short term relief" (aka babysits) your child with special needs.  If the practical uses of a government paid babysitter are not obvious let me list a few uses.
  • You want to go on a date with your spouse.
  • If you want to go work out
  • If you want to go shopping
  • If you just want to take a nap
Lets face it many daily activities are difficult to accomplish when you have children and can be even more so when your child have needs that require special attention.  That is where respite workers can help out.

Habilitation: this is another government paid worker whom you choose to work with your child on life skills.  This person is not to work on homework skills, that is what the government workers at the school are paid to do.  Some common skills that are worked on are the following.

  • Brushing teeth
  • Tying shoes
  • Eating at the table
  • Safety skills
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Basic cooking
  • Ordering off of a menu
  • Self help skills
  • etc.
This list is just a few of the many life skills these people are paid to help your child learn to do independently.  After all that is the goal isn't it?  The list starts at pretty basic and moves to more complicated.  Teaching children without special needs these tasks can be time consuming and teaching a child with special needs can require a little more time and energy and that is where habilitation workers can help out.  They are not meant to replace the parents but to work in tandem.  They might just continue a method/style of teaching that you have started or might try their own that may work better.   The idea is to create a system to address the skills that they do when they are there and that the parent carries through (for consistency) when the habilitation worker is not there.

Attendance care: this is another government paid worker that takes care of the needs of the child that he/she can not take care of themselves.  Lets look at the following
  • If your child is wheel chair bound then he/she may not be able to make their own food or do their laundry.
This service can lighten the load of a parent especially if the child with special needs is not the only child in the house.  But remember, these workers are there specifically for your one child with the disability.  Which goes for all of these services, it can be difficult to find a good reliable service provider (a person who provides these services) do not abuse them or they will likely leave.

One additional note that was brought to my attention.  These services are not approved or disapproved by your support coordinator.  The SC will "broadcast" your want of these services.  What that means is that your name will go into an agency database and then you are in limbo until one agency decides to call your SC and tell them that they want to provide services.

If this is taking to long, longer than a week or two I would take a more direct approach and ask your SC for the list of providing agencies and call them.  Refer to my "choosing an agency" post to help you chose a good agency.  If your SC is not helping coordinate support then contact their superior and request assistance, do not hesitate to do this.  Remember these services are for your child and the longer the wait the longer your child goes without services.  If your SC is not helpful in many aspects and are not coordinating support than feel free to ask their supervisor for a new one.  Remember this is not personal.

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