All parents need a break. But it is costly and difficult for parents of special needs children to take the time for an escape. Finding someone qualified to care for their child with extra challenges is also a huge task.
But the need is greater than ever to help these families find time to recharge their lives. Nationally, 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism before the age of 8. In Georgia, that number is even higher. One in 39 boys is found to be somewhere on the Autism spectrum.
Today’s parents no longer want to shove their children off to some institution, to be forgotten. Modern parents are embracing their children’s differences. But today’s parents are still human and get bogged down by the many demands of caring for children who live in a world not designed for them.
One program in Toronto, Canada, is helping moms and dads get that badly needed break.
Since 2008, every week the Toronto tourism industry gives a couple a luxury weekend away from the responsibilities of caring for their child with a disability. The parents are treated to limo service pick and delivery to and from their home, a two night stay at a glamorous hotel, dinners and free passes to the hottest attractions in town.
Raymund and Ann Tanalgo said that having a date weekend was like a second honeymoon and greatly strengthened their marriage, since they had not gotten away alone together in eight years. Their 8-year-old son Andrei has been diagnosed with autism, and requires extra attention.
“Raising a child with special needs is rewarding but difficult, “ Raymund, said.
Tourism Toronto works closely with local respite services so that while the couple is taking a well-deserved break, they also know that their child is being lovingly and professional cared for by outstanding caregivers.
Raymund and Ann were thrilled with their weekend away in Toronto. “It was a wonderful week end. We felt fully recharged.”
“You always want to do something for the kinds, and you can never do enough to supports kids with complex medical needs,” says David Whitaker, president and CEO of Tourism Toronto. “Sometimes the best way to help a special-needs child is to give Mom and Dad a break.”