NB: This is an update on respite and there are a few details that I have included before, so you might not want to read it if you've read my previous posts on this subject.
I was going to apply for a job this morning. Instead, as I was skimming the top few layers of my in-tray I noticed a letter to say that Smiley is in Respite tomorrow for one night. And I am so not ready! You see there was a respite review meeting last week, and I agreed to make lots of changes to help the staff and improve her experience.
That sounds like she was having a miserable time. Not at all. She comes home happy and smiley and buzzing. But the first thing she usually does is drink about a pint and half of juice, then she goes to sleep and then she sometimes develops constipation over the next 24 hours or so. At the review I discovered that she often sleeps for less than 6 hours a night - at home it's more like 9 hours - and she wasn't getting her medicine because I hadn't sent in the prescription.
So I spent three hours this morning preparing for tomorrow, thought there *may* have been some tweeting involved too. The preparations including ironing her PJs - something I've never been known to attempt before - just so they know I'm serious. I've bought a special speaker for her iPod shuffle, so she can have soft music to play as she sleeps. Everything is now labelled with her name and packed in an enormous case which includes a check list of all the contents. I've updated the information on her daily routine, what she likes and when, and how she tells you what she needs.
|Bag packed and ready to go|
Here is my recipe for respite - so if you don't have a child with special needs, now is the time to stop reading this and go and find something more interesting...
- Don't introduce your child to respite until you are both ready: I waited until Smiley was 12.
- Check out the accommodation: make sure it's suitable and welcoming.
- Meet some of the staff and talk to them about your child's needs. Are they listening?
- Who else stays in the respite house? In Smiley's case it's other children from her school, so she's with friends.
- Talk to your child about her 'sleepover' and explain to her that's she's going to have lots of fun with her friends. Or read a social story.
- Prepare a schedule for the staff showing all the important details of your child's normal day.
- Send in everything you think she might need - a midnight trip to the respite house with something in the middle of the night is to be avoided at all costs!
- Label everything clearly and prominently and provide a check list of all items that are in the bag - it helps the staff to make sure that they are returning all her belongings. One of her many pairs of jeggings being left behind is not a problem - it would be more serious if her medicines got forgotten.
- Communicate - more often than I do - with the respite house to make sure that all is going well.
- Finally respite should be a break for you and fun for your child, so enjoy it. I used to feel guilty, but I don't now.
I'm hoping that this recipe will work really well - or have I left out an important ingredient? Please let me know...