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the situation and to cope with their feelings. Sometimes it is helpful for them to talk directly with professionals serving the child. Some parents find it helpful to give the grandparents literature on the disability or take them to doctor’s appointments with them. Finding a way for them to be involved can be helpful to everyone. Parents can also share their needs and feelings with the grandparents. The best time to do this is when things are fairly stable, not in the middle of a crisis. Above all else, try to use the unique challenges to strengthen extended family relationships. It may help if you ask them to do some specific tasks for your child or the family, like reading to a child, helping with homework, cooking or driving. Other relatives and close friends may have feelings similar to grandparents, but they also can be very supportive of you.

CAN OUR MARRIAGE SURVIVE THE STRESSES OF MANAGING THIS DISABILITY OR ILLNESS? Caring for a child with a health problem or disability does place stress on a marriage, however, it also may strengthen marital relationships. People have different ways of coping with stress. A husband and wife may have different needs and may not always be able to support each other. Some people need to pull back from a close relationship from time to time while they attempt to manage difficult feelings. Talking it out together can help even if you have different feelings and responses. It is important to accept each other’s feelings as valid for that person. Each spouse needs someone with whom he or she can relate or talk to, a

person who will listen and give support. Sometimes, a husband and wife need support persons beyond each other. Other mothers or fathers who have a child with a disability are often wonderful, “safe” sources of support; their common experiences can be a unique source of understanding and validation. It is important for a couple to find some time to be alone together and/or to do recreational things together. It might also be helpful to build in time with a therapist, minister, counselor, or other mental health professional. Different kinds of support may be helpful at different times.

HOW CAN I FIND A BABYSITTER I CAN TRUST AND WHO IS COMFORTABLE WITH MY CHILD? Talk with the regular sitters in your neighborhood. Explain your child’s needs and offer to have them be with your child while you are present so they reach a comfort level with their needs and the things they will need to do. Advertise for and hire a person who is interested in a child with special needs and train the person in providing care. Contact nursing students at local hospitals or schools of nursing or child development majors at nearby colleges. Go to your local college departments, such as special education, psychology, social work, Occupational Therapy, etc. and put up a flyer about needing respite.

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