Fact sheet on respite care for parents of a child with Autism, an Autism Spectrum Disorder


Parents may find that surviving is a matter of taking time out for themselves when caring for a child with autism or Asperger's syndrome. Part of this may just be taking time for a cuppa during each day, but often longer breaks are needed.

Respite care is an essential part of the overall support that families may need when Asperger's or autism is involved. It can be provided in the home or in a variety of out-of-home settings. Since not all families have the same needs, respite care is usually flexible to fit in with a family's requirements.


What is respite care?

Someone else takes over responsibility for the person you care for. It might be for a few hours, a day or longer. This may free some time for an exercise class, attend a wedding, weekly shopping or to go on holidays. There are three main types of respite care:
• In home
• Day centers
• Residential (nursing homes, hostels or regional hospitals).


You will need to make sure the respite care service is familiar with the needs of children with autism or Asperger's and staff are trained accordingly.


Who gets respite care?

In most cases, any parent or carer can ask for respite. You don't have to be a full-time carer. For example if your main duties are cooking then respite care can be organized for that. The availability of respite care in various counties depends on the extent of welfare services provided by governments, so check with your local autism or Asperger's association for details.


cost and frequency of respite care

Some services may be free, others a token fee while others may be expensive. Some services will have a sliding scale that is dependent on your income. Most people who use respite do so regularly, often once or twice a week. They may also have a regular pattern of holiday respite set up for annual holidays. While respite is vital for people under a stressful situation, the ideal is to organize respite before your situation becomes difficult. Regular breaks are a central part of any stress management.


look after yourself as parents of an autistic child

Respite is a vital part of maintaining your health and sanity when caring for a child with autism or Asperger's syndrome. Use the following checklist to see if are doing what you need to look after yourself:
• Ask for help when you need it
• Take time for yourself
• Exercise, eat well and rest
• Relax regularly
• Keep up social contacts
• Attend a carers group for support
• Access and use available services
• Acknowledge and deal with feelings.


For more information, advice, and referral, contact your nearest autism or Asperger's association.


See the Family and Carer issues section of the website for more information.


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Parenting a child with Autism or Asperger's syndrome can be very stressful at times - appropriate respite care can be a great way to get back into phyical and mental balance again