Caring for a child with a disability can be overwhelming. Simple tasks of daily life, like going grocery shopping or cleaning the house, can become very difficult. Respite care is temporary care for persons with disabilities that is intended to provide assistance to a family to prevent burnout and family disintegration. Respite gives families an important pause from daily routines, essential for the mental, physical and spiritual maintenance of both the caregiver and their loved ones.

Since not all families have the same needs, respite should be geared toward individual family needs including parents, siblings and sometimes even grandparents.

Recreation and leisure activities are also a critical dimension of the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities. These activities help children with disabilities meet new friends and develop skills and competencies. Traditionally, respite and recreation are given low priority as an area in which support and assistance are provided.

However, in Jewish Baltimore, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) offers a number of appropriate social and recreational programs for children, teens and adults with disabilities, enhancing the lives of the participants and giving caregivers a much-needed break. JCC programs give participants the opportunity to interact with their peers, enhance self-esteem and improve social skills. Children with disabilities are encouraged to mainstream into JCC classes, camps, after-school programs, groups and events.

In addition, Menucha, Inc. whose mission is to support Jewish children with special needs and their families in a culturally sensitive manner offers weekday and weekend programs that introduce children with special needs to their Jewish heritage and help them to integrate into the community. Menucha is the Hebrew word for rest, respite and peace of mind.

Americans Live With an Autism Spectrum Disorder
of Children Have Been Diagnosed with a Developmental Disability