Family and Church Support ... and Beyond

Having two grown daughters willing and able to help (periodically and more long term) with Joey (their brother, our son) with special needs has been such a great blessing. Because of the training they’ve received within our home, they’ve not only helped us immensely but they’ve each had opportunities to serve others with special needs, and sometimes have been hired. Additionally, when our daughters were very young, I’d hire a gal who was capable, loving, and caring to help with Joey (and our girls) so I could get a few things done around the house, do some writing, or get out of the house for a bit! We have to realize that paying for care might need to be an option for us to get uninterrupted time to pursue our enjoyments and other duties. And yet, there are many options to explore beyond family and beyond financial concerns.


Family support was the best option for us (and for many) because they know the routines and personality complications, but family isn’t always available. And, sometimes the change from a family member to someone new was nice for the children. We had to achieve a certain comfort level before we left our children in the care of others—whether in our home, at church, or elsewhere. The same principle flows into adulthood, as well. Adulthood can be a challenging time for us to find a caregiver for our adult child. The babysitting criteria differ from the usual care of a little one.

  • Is someone from our church family, community, or service related company able to:
  • Change a diaper on an adult if needed?
  • Change a sanitary napkin pad on a young lady if needed?
  •  Help toilet the one with special needs?
  •  Help dress one who is fully developed and an adult?
  • Shower or help shower or bathe the one who isn’t able to do it alone?
  • Does the age/gender match up well? (Example: Joey is nearly 37. Having a high school gal or younger caring for him probably wouldn’t be appropriate. We were also careful about our girls caring for some of Joey’s personal needs until they were older.) 
  • Willing to ask for guidance and help and not “know it all” when things are challenging?
  • Understand low verbal abilities (or none) and take non-verbal cues to meet needs?
  • Allow us to feel the level of safety we need in order to leave them alone to care for our child(ren)?
  • Be trained (willing and able) to help serve our needs and the needs of our loved one?

One who volunteers to help doesn’t always consider some of these needs. We need to screen and train those willing. I like what I call the SHOWER method:

S-Show them how to do it
H-Help them as they do it with your guidance
O-On their Own – you watch without commentary or help
W-Watch them as you are “around” them, in the room, etc. but don’t hover!
E-Encourage them as they do things well without you
R-Release them to be on their own so you can leave.

Yes, it takes time, but the training time is worth it when you get to have some time alone!

Joe and Cindi Ferrini can be reached via jpfcmf@sbcglobal.netwww.cindiferrini.com See you there!