Care for the caregiver

Care for the caregiver

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Being a caregiver is hard. The scheduling of medical, dental, school and after school activities. Let us not forget meal prep and clean up followed by the constant cleaning after little people who leave toys, and food everywhere. Yes, being a caregiver is difficult, and it is not easy when one is the caregiver of a child with Special Needs such as Intellectually Disabilities or Autism.   Is there care for the caregiver and if so how what does that include? Here are some helpful tips to help caregivers

1. Create a To- Do List
To – do list allows one to prioritize their schedule.  This plan may include scheduling doctor and dental appointments along with other appointments such as Physical, Occupational Therapies.

On the To- Do- should be carved out time for the caregiver to do something for themselves this can be to schedule respite for the child, getting a massage or just finishing the last chapter in a book they were reading. The caregiver needs are critical. Taking the time to write out a to-do list and placing one needs on it will help avoid burnout. http://www.thecompletecaregiver.com/visual_vacations

Ask for Help
As a caregiver, one can quickly put their wants and needs aside to attend to their family member, however, acknowledge where you are. Do you need help with the small tasks, such having a family member get the child off the bus, or setting up a schedule for other medical specialties Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor?  How does the family unit work and what system has the family unit created to help the caregiver? Help may include incorporating grandparents and siblings.http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/caring-for-children/special-needs-three-a-different-kind,https://siblingsupport.org/

 

Creating Balance

Every caregiver needs balance. For them to be effective and efficient creating balance includes reaching out to support groups in one’s place of worship.  Or finding support groups online  Getting educated on the child’s diagnosis is very empowering as well.   The International  Board of  Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards has a plethora of resources https://ibcces.org/resources/

Social Work and Autism

Social Work and Autism

I am a Social Work professional whose expertise is working with the Intellectually Disabled and Autistic Population. I love my job. My sole job is to provide resources, education, and advocacy for this steady growing population. Autism affects one in 68 births(CDC, 2014).

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Working with the Autistic Populations has taught me:

It is not about me

What I want for my clients is very different from what they want for themselves. Many times in the field, professionals who work with clients look at the result versus looking at the hear and now. I have learned to listen what is said and sometimes what is not said.

Making Choices

Providing opportunities. It is important to exercise the ability to choose. Providing options are the best way for people to find out what they like and do not like and it also helps create more conversation about many other things.Choice making is a skill I feel is not exercised enough with this population. http://www.pinterest.com/autismclassroom/visual-supports-for-an-autism-classroom/

Are proper supports in Place

What is needed for this Autistic individual to maintain a ” normal” life is the question asked and how do we as a professionally supportive community help create this world for this person? Will the individual need Vocational Rehabilitation because their goal is to earn competitive wages? Whether the person’s goal is to live alone, will this person need the assistance of a Supported Living Coach? Will this need appropriate guidance for activities of daily living such as medication management, making the doctor appointment, meal preparation, and grocery shopping? What about socialization and community-based outings? Will the individual need someone to help integrate them into the community?

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I help coordinate and maintain services for the individual, who likes making the lives of Autistic Individuals a little better.

Back to school

As the new school year approaches, I am reminded of a saying my mother used to say; “You ain’t  got to leave, but you ain’t staying here.”  Now, I know some parents are  relieved their little ankle biters will have some meaningful daily activity, but for some parents, there is an uneasiness which festers.

For some parents, especially those who have children with special needs, this can be a very anxiety- filled time. Wondering if  the school will meet all of their child’s needs.Will their child be safe?  How will their child learn? How will these learning objectives be measured?  These are all very good questions.

Children who have special needs often have a difficulty adjusting to the new change, especially children with autism and anxiety challenges.  Changes in routine can lead to maladaptive behaviors such as non- compliance, and tantrums. I have some tips which may make going back to school easy as

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  1. Attend  an Open House  When the school  has scheduled a open house, go to it and take the prospective student too. This helps parents meet the teacher(s)  who will  be  teaching their children. He/ She can see where their classroom will be located and get acclimated to the environment.
  2. Create a  Social Story. Social Stories are a good visual and written description of  the events that will happen. This will help him / her know what t will happen the day before and for the rest of the week depending on the child’s need. This is also helpful to include a schedule. Be consistent with this.
  3. Communication. I cannot stress this enough.  Communicate, Communicate COMMUNICATE. It makes a world of difference. Teachers and parents play an intricate role in the child’s life. Deciding how the  two parties will communicate is also a huge part. Whether this will be  communication will  via E-mail / telephone .It also needs to be decided  if this will be on a daily or weekly basis. Or whether they communicate via the child(ren) academic planner where both parties need to initial it  each day. Whatever system will be used needs to be consistent.

Here is to a productive academic year.

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How to survive your first professional conference

July 13- 17, I was an attendee of the Autism Society  National Conference held in the beautiful city of New Orleans, Louisiana.   I am a Social Worker who specializes in working with the Intellectually Disabled and Autistic Community. When the opportunity arose for me to not only go to New Orleans, a city I have admired for many years, but also attend a conference I am  professionally attached too;  I  became Super Man, “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”!

super man Here, I was bright – eyed and bushy tailed, being exposed to this community of people, who like  myself ,associate themselves either professionally or personally to the  world of Autism.  I was able to network with those individuals who work in  Behavioral Health, such as http://www.fit.edu/aba who specializes in Applied Behavioral Analysis, and other organizations such as http://www.ibcces.org, who  established the industry standards for the Certified Autism Specialist and Autism Certificate. These credentials ensure that professionals remain current and up to date in the field of autism.

So how does  one survive their first Conference?

  1.  Volunteer– Conferences are expensive. If you can volunteer for the conference which peaks your interest both professionally and personally, DO IT. It allows one to see the ins and outs of how a conference operates, and volunteering looks good on any resume.  However, volunteers are responsible for their own accommodations.   Organizations such as http://www.autismsociety.com, fill up fast with people who want to volunteer, so sign up as soon as knowledge of conference becomes available. Do not forget to inquire about the wardrobe.
  2. Check surrounding areas for inexpensive hotels.  Most conferences have a host hotel. Usually, the hotel offers discounts to those who are attending the conference.  One may have to venture into other hotels closer to the conference if money is an issue. This is another item that needs to be researched prior to going to volunteer especially if  the conference is out of state. Using sites such as http://www.kayak.com or http://www.hotels.com for exclusive deals.
  3. Network, Network, Network. I cannot stress this enough, especially if this a conference where one belongs to professionally, It is important to position oneself with those in the industry.  Bring your business cards. Sites like http://www.vistaprint.com and http://www.moo.com help create business  cards and other business advertisements.
  4. Find Things to do in  the visiting City–  Usually, a conference is a few days to a week and between the hours of 9-5. So,what does one do after they have a break? Find something to do. I was in New Orleans, so places like Bourbon Street offer many things to do It is helpful if one researches things to do before the conference http://www.thingstodo.com,http://www.groupon.com and http://www.livingsocial.com
  5. After, it’s all said and done.  Recap the experience, take it all in and sign up to do another conference.face