Five Ingredients You Need For A Great Support Team

April 24, 2014

Belonging, Parenting

A-TeamDon Bennett was on top of the world. He was wealthy; he owned a ranch, an eight-bedroom waterfront home on Mercer Island, and a ski chalet.  Life was good.

And then everything changed. A boating accident resulted in Don losing his right leg.  To make matters worse, during his lengthy hospital stay, his business fell to pieces.

At some point after his recovery he was determined to do something that he had never done before:  climb the 14, 411 feet to the summit of Mt. Rainier.   With a team of four others Don began a grueling one year training regimen.

On July 15th 1982 Don and his team began the climb.  He climbed for five days, 14 hours a day, sometimes hopping, sometimes crawling up the incline on one leg, and on July 15, 1982, Don Bennett touched the summit at 14,410 feet. He was the first amputee to climb Mt. Rainier.

When asked about the most important lesson he learned during the entire ordeal, his response was simple:

“You can’t do it on your own.” 

You can’t do it on your own.  Few, if any, truly outstanding accomplishments can be achieved alone. This is true with teams engaged in mountain climbing and it is true for those of you who care for a loved one.  I can vividly remember those days as a single parent with three boys on the autism spectrum…it was challenging to say the least!  The one thing that helped me get through my day-to-day role as a caregiver is that I surrounded myself with supportive people…my “A-Team!”

You Need An A-Team Because You Can’t Do It On Your Own!

Because of the multi-faceted tasks that still need to be accomplished while caring for your child.  You need a “A-Team.”  You need a range of caregiver support services not only to care for your child, but also for you to remain healthy, improve your caregiving skills and be able to remain active in your caregiving role. The support services you need may include information, assistance, counseling, respite, home modifications and assistive devices, support groups and family counseling, among others.

Unfortunately, in the “real world” there is little consistency from local agencies as to how these services are delivered, and who delivers them.   Regardless, you need to put together a team.

A good caregiver support team includes:

  1. Family and Friends – They can provide emotional air and help serve as your extended eyes, hands, and legs to help you get things done.
  2. A general doctor educated about your care-receiver’s special needs (i.e., autism, down syndrome, etc.)  – many doctors admittedly are not specifically trained about autism or other types of special needs.  You do want to find someone who understands your child’s needs and who is genuinely compassionate about your loved one’s condition.  There’s nothing worse than dealing with a doctor who has no compassion or clue with what you and your loved one are going through.   Remember, you are your child’s advocate.  You want a capable and caring doctor on your team.  Nothing less.
  3. Training and Support –  there are a variety of excellent resource organizations.  They can provide educational materials, listings of support groups, caregiver resources, including info about after school or adult day care programs, respite services, grants, and more.  I recommend getting on their mailing list to stay in the loop of ALL their offerings, which can include upcoming conferences, speakers, fundraiser events, and more.
  4. A Welcoming Community of Faith – a welcoming church can provide support in a number of areas: financial aid, respite, support groups, opportunities to fellowship, and God’s unconditional love for ALL people.
  5. Online Support Communities – there are a variety of excellent online support communities where you can connect with others for moral support and encouragement.  There are many others who face similar circumstances and you can find them on places like Twitter, Specialneedsparenting.net, or Facebook.

I’ve had my fair share of days where being a caregiver felt like a very lonely endeavor.  I’ll bet you know exactly how that feels.  If you do, then I’m here to help you connect with others who know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.  If you can’t find an online community then email me, and together, we will find some support!  You can’t always do it alone.

Michael Woods

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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