On a daily basis, parents of a child with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) experience more hours of childcare, more work interruptions, more stressful events, and more fatigue. A study shows that parents of a child with IDD have comparable stress levels to soldiers in combat. While parenting comes with challenges, parenting a child with IDD comes with complex and multi-faceted challenges.
Parents of kids with IDD encounter extraordinary financial expenses and often sacrifice careers to tend to their children’s needs (resulting in a loss of income for the family). Parents face emotional challenges related to fear about their child’s future, guilt about their inability to help more, feelings of social isolation, exposure to criticism and judgment, and grief or sorrow from lost hopes and dreams of a “typical” life.
Across the US, we are experiencing the first generation of children with IDD being raised at home. In the past, children were sent to regional care centers. While this transition is good, we don’t have all the community supports in place yet for both parents and kids to thrive. More depleted in time and resources for self-care than parents of typical children, parents of kids with IDD have a greater need to refuel.
Grant Support from the Grand Foundation
With grant support from the Grand Foundation, some innovative thinking, and lots of help from volunteers, Horizons has created more ways to support families. In collaboration with the East Grand School District, the Middle Park High School Transition Program, YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch, Northwest Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), Northwest Colorado Center for Independence (NWCCI), and the Adaptive Fitness Group, Horizons is helping families find respite.
In late April, six young adults ages 15-21 participated in an Independent Overnight at Snow Mountain Ranch. East Grand School District provided transportation to the event; Snow Mountain Ranch provided transportation during the event. Caregiving and medical supervision was provided by staff from Horizons and Middle Park High School. During their stay, participants made dinner, went roller skating, did arts and crafts, ate breakfast at the Commons at Snow Mountain Ranch, and soaked up the breathtaking million dollar views.
Some participants never spent the night away from their parents before. Some parents never had a night to themselves before. Between the kids’ constant smiles, easy interactions, and comfortable confidence, it was a tangible treat for them to relish in each other’s company and the luxury of a classy getaway. Just as palpable was the parents’ gratitude for an evening out with friends, a sense of security and excitement for their child, topped by an uninterrupted night of sleep. “Having a night off,” said one parent, “is a dream come true!”
Prior to the overnight, the Adaptive Fitness Group organized a bowling respite night. Comprised of Horizons, NSCD, NWCCI, and the Transition Program, the group focuses on fitness activities for individuals with IDD while offering respite for caretakers. Deeming the event successful, the group hopes to sustain monthly activities so that parents can recharge more often—enjoying some space and a moment to breathe.