The Community Foundation of Eastern CT has awarded the collaborative partnership of The Light House and Creative Potential, a three year grant to provide a twice a month, six hour respite program for children with special needs.
While most parents of newborn children have experienced some level of fatigue, many of us who have children with disabilities live our lives with a deep sense of exhaustion well past the first few years. On top of all the other “regular parenting” challenges, there are often sleep disorders, special dietary needs, and a level of daily long term help that our children need. While most parents hit certain age-milestones that lesson their loads somewhat (like potty training, self-feeding, dressing etc…), for many parents with kids with disabilities, this kind of hands-on parenting can continue well into the teens – or forever.
Fatigue not only impacts parents health in terms of their own cognitive functioning, but it also impedes their ability to cope. Exhaustion can cause impaired functioning, forgetfulness, and reduced patience to such a degree that even normal activities can feel like overwhelming tasks. In fact, parents experiencing greater levels of fatigue may perceive their children’s behavior as more challenging (Cooklin et al.,2012). This could potentially lead to a feedback loop of problematic behavior and outcomes as parents are less well-equipped to deal with children’s problematic behavior.
What can you do to help yourself if you are experiencing fatigue?
Take a break: once you have some support, try and take a few hours – or even a few days – to yourself. It’s amazing how much difference a day makes.