Being a parent of a child is a daily battle for time – there’s never enough, there is always something to do, somewhere to go, errands to run. Finding time for yourself is like seeking diamonds in a coal mine.
But the parents of special needs children are faced with even more challenges, and even less time.
And that’s where Autumn Green’s organization – All In Need – comes in. The Pleasant Hill resident offers parents of special needs children a chance to get away, spend some time alone, taking care of their own needs for a couple of hours. The organization also offers the children socialization skills and gross and fine motor skills development.
Green started All In Need as a church ministry, but now it is a non-profit organization. She began the service one miserable morning when her youngest son Yaakov, after several years of various therapies and medications, was not finding the help he needed.
“He was pushing me down the stairs, jumping out of cars, punching me,” she said. “He was originally diagnosed with pediatric bi-polar, which was later changed to Aspburger’s. But I came home one day, and I was exhausted. I fell on the floor crying and praying, and I heard a voice say ‘you need to help others.’”
So she began All In Need as a way to provide respite care for parents of special needs children. She expanded the service to include socialization and motor skills help.
The social groups meet twice a month. They learn to play board games, card games and Wii, and through those games learn about sharing, losing, and other social skills special needs kids struggle with. The group also takes outings, like breakfast in a restaurant or a trip to the drive-in.
The respite care part of the program is designed specifically to give the parents a few precious hours to spend as adults, taking care of adult needs.
“Some of our parents just take a nap, others go out on dates. It just depends on what you need,” Green said. “The whole goal of respite is to give parents a much-needed break.”
As for Green, she said that since she started All In Need, there hasn’t been much time for her own needs, but thanks to a great support group of friends, she does manage to get out now and then.
"A friend gave me $40 the other day to get my toenails done," she said. "I cried the entire time."