Respite for Autism Caregivers

Elijah plays with stuffed toy at autism program
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In Canada, more than a quarter of a million families are touched by autism spectrum disorders.

The Salvation Army London Village Respite Program supports over 200 families; approximately 50 have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Seven-year-old Elijah has attended the ASD program for over a year. It has been a huge relief for his mother, Emily, who says he loves it.

“The respite program allows me to breathe a little bit better knowing that Elijah is in a safe place and is having fun at the same time,” says Emily.

“As a parent, I’m grateful to have a break from time to time.”

Emily has three other children; age three, five and nine. She worked full-time until she recently cut back to 28 hours a week, temporarily, in the best interest of her family.

“As a parent, I’m grateful to have a break from time to time,” says Emily. “And a different environment is a good thing for Elijah.”

“A different environment is a good thing for Elijah.”

With a smile on her face and calmness in her voice, Emily recalls the first time she and her husband took Elijah to the London Village.

“We didn’t know how he was going to react,” says Emily. “The first time we took him he was so thrilled he couldn’t wait to go back. The second time, as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, he got excited. It tells me he enjoys the program when I see a reaction like that from him.”

Emily is extremely impressed with the staff at the London Village, which brings her a great sense of comfort.

“It’s not only the program, but the staff as well,” says Emily. “They make me feel welcome, always have a smile on their face and make things easy on you. The fact you already have struggles with a child with special needs…the staff is amazing.”

The Salvation Army London Village ASD programs are for children and youth between the ages of five to 17 years.

By Shannon Wise