Finding a babysitter for your child with special needs can be nerve-racking. I know, I’ve been there! I also know how empowering it can be for you and your child to be able to spend time on your own and bring someone into your home that you trust. Over the past three years I have made a sitter-finding system for our family that I hope will help yours, too! Check out the 5 tips below to get started.
1. Pat yourself on the back.
Everyone needs a break, including you! Having time to yourself is a key part of self-care and helps both you and your child to build independence and trust.
2. Decide what matters most to you in a sitter.
Really focus and choose 4-5 traits. If you’re having trouble making a list, ask yourself these questions to get the ball rolling: Will babysitting my child require special training (such as a background in ABA)? Will the sitter need to be able to drive? Does the sitter have experience with other children with special needs?
3. Ask others and be creative.
See if your friends and family members have trusted sitter recommendations based on the needs you’ve listed above. If you do not have friends or family nearby, ask your child’s pediatrician for local support groups or organizations, call local colleges and ask to connect with students studying special education, and spread the word with neighbors and other members of your community. Great sitters are out there and you will find one you connect with!
4. Interview candidates and encourage open communication.
Now it’s time for the interviews. When you meet with a candidate, be honest and forthcoming about your child’s needs and any concerns you may have, and ask them to do the same. Questions are good!. And, if one sitter doesn’t work out, that’s ok, another one will. Be patient and keep talking with each other.
5. Start small.
This is important for both you and your child to adjust to having a new person in the home. Start with a small trip. Show yourself and your child that you leave and come back.