Banishing The Babysitting Blues

Parenting children with AS can be a joyous, rewarding and eye-opening experience. It can also be challenging, and at times exhausting. We all need breaks in our parenting hours to rest, refuel, and regenerate ourselves. For most families, that means hiring a babysitter—but where do you find one, and how can you help to ensure that the experience will go well? Here are a few thoughts.

Where to look?

Some younger children may be able to be cared for by a responsible local teen, especially one who might be an older sibling of a special needs child. Ask friends, neighbors, or church or temple members for recommendations. You might ask the high school’s social outreach coordinator if there are students who want to earn social service hours (now important for college applications). However, some of our children will need older, more mature sitters. As an educator I have found these options worth looking into:

  • Contact your town’s special education office and ask if you could post an ad for para-professionals to pick up some after-school, weekend or summer hours. Write a clear job description with the amount you can pay, what services you would like, what specific hours you are seeking, and any specific other details such as whether a car will be needed. Here is an example:
    Seek special sitter for special six year old girl
    3 hours/week on Saturday mornings starting in April.
    Sitter can follow the easy schedule provided by parent.
    Pay is $15 per hour.
    Please provide your own car.
    For more information please contact Myra Frazzle, 617- 123-4567.
  • All towns also belong to educational collaboratives, whose classrooms use para-professionals as well.
  • Colleges may also be a source of more mature sitters, possibly including students who have a particular interest in special education, psychology or social work. BU, Lesley, and Simmons offer special needs programs that specifically address AS. Students often look for flexible hours to fit around their class schedules. They may be looking for a job that can also offer them experience in the field they are going into; a letter of recommendation from a parent might be a welcome addition to a student’s file. Sometimes a parent can even work with the student and a professor to enable the student to gain credit for an independent study designed around the specific care they give your child.
  • AANE members can post that job description on the online parent support group. Some parents may be willing to share their prized sitters if they know that you are only looking for specific, limited hours.
  • You can try: www.collegehelpers.com ($10 fee to advertise) or www.sittercity.com which can be more expensive to use.

Click here to read the rest of the article on the AANE website.

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