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Grace D. is from Mill Valley, CA. Grace provided the following biography: “Originally from Canada, Grace is the mother of a charming, mischievous boy with generalized epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and cognitive disability. Raising a child with special needs has been one of her most rewarding and life-defining experiences. In addition to being a caregiver, she is also a clinical psychologist specializing in chronic pain. She has worked for over 12 years in a hospital setting, helping clients and their families to manage the impact of chronic medical conditions and improve their quality of life. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, creative writing, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and their rescue dog.” When contacted about being a grand prize winner for the contest, Grace wrote back with: “Thanks for sharing the good news. How exciting!”
What tips do you have for care at home?
Tips for Caregiving
As the mom of a boy with special needs, these are the top three tips I’ve learned:
1. Think Outside the Box
One size doesn’t fit all, and this is especially true for families with members with special needs. Don’t be afraid to do things differently, in a way that works for you. For instance, our son’s sleeping problems were helped by finding him a zippered tent bed. He loves it because he thinks he’s camping out every night–and we can sleep better too knowing that he is safe from falls.
2. Empower Your Loved One
As much as possible, encourage your loved one’s independence. This will build his/her sense of self-worth…and may give you a break too. It may take a lot of small steps to get there, but the effort is worth it. We encourage our son to pitch in with chores; we’re currently working with him on sorting utensils from the dishwasher into the drawer (so it’s a learning activity too!).
3. Take Care of Yourself
Caregiver stress and burnout is real. Be sure to take time for yourself. Even small things–a short walk, hot bath, or call to a support person–can help alleviate stress and keep you resilient.
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