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Traveling with children Reporting elopement Bullying Anger Reach out Advice for new parents

1. Medical Intervention: This includes, surgeries, tests, and procedures. Though such interventions are for a child’s future good, from their perspective the event is scary. It hurts. The environment is unfamiliar. As an adult, our son gave this description of being wheeled into surgery when he was four. “I was laying on a hard gurney. They opened these big doors and wheeled me into this huge, cold, white room with glaring lights. I went a little crazy, so people kept leaning over and saying, ‘It’s okay. You’re all right.’ All I could think was, ‘They don’t have faces. None of the people have faces.’ It was years before I realized they were wearing masks that covered their mouths and noses.”

2. Abuse: Any kind of abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, as well as any behavior perceived as abuse by a child, can be traumatic. This includes bullying by adults or a child’s peers.

3. Neglect: Think about the horrendous stories of children kept in boxes, or rows and rows of babies confined to cribs in foreign orphanages. We now know that many of these children develop radical attachment disorder (RAD). But neglect at a very early age is also a cause of trauma.

4. Disasters:

Name your disaster–tornado, hurricane, earthquake, tsunamis, flood, volcano, a house fire, a bridge collapse–any natural event where a child feels he or the adults around them are helpless can be a source of trauma.

5. Violent Acts: The Sandy Hook school shooting is one example of a violent act. Others include war, gang violence, witnessing a parent being abused, or children who are kidnapped.

6. Accidents: Car, plane or train accidents are a cause of trauma for children who experience the event. Even a playground accident or accidents in the home or on a farm can cause trauma.

7. Divorce: The break up of a marriage (or a long-term relationship between unmarried partners) is often much more traumatic than adults may realize. The greater the animosity between the parents and the less parents address the issue directly with children, the more likely it is to cause trauma.

8. The Death of a Significant Loved One: Whenever someone important to child’s security dies, the event can cause trauma.

9. Moving: Remember to look at moving from a child’s perspective. A child usually has no control over the move. Friends are gone. The familiar environment is gone. Parents are preoccupied. New school. New neighborhood. Having to make new friends. That can be pretty traumatic.

10. Adoption: Yes, even this wonderful, loving act can be traumatic for kids. Adoption is a big change for a child. Even for newborns, the mothers’ voices and body rhythms that were synced for nine months are no longer there. For older children, their whole life changes. For the most part they have no control over what’s happening

8 Essential Tips For Preventing Caregiver Burnout 2012/10/04 By Karen

“Who needs caffeine when I can have adrenaline-fueled adventures all day and all night?”

That’s what I used to say when my son was little. By 1 or 2 pm on most days, my hands started trembling from the constant stream of adrenaline. My mind was always on alert because my hyperactive son was an escape artist with a knack for getting himself into dangerous situations. I had to think quickly on the run.

Stress Hormones

After my son turned 3, I noticed that the trembling had stopped. The high stress level had become my new normal. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison found that mothers of children with autism had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to mothers of children without disabilities. Repeated exposure to stress over time is known to cause diminished stress hormones. The same phenomenon of reduced cortisol levels is also found in soldiers in combat zones who become desensitized to danger.

The Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout Desensitization is one reason why caregiver burnout usually is not recognized by caregivers themselves. The symptoms of burnout overlap with those of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: 1.





Feeling numb or developing an uncaring, negative

attitude 4.

Heightened sensitivity


Social withdrawal


Loss of interest in favorite activities


Frequent illness and/or chronic pain


Thoughts of self-harm or harming the person with a

disability 9.

Difficulty concentrating


Changes in sleep patterns


Changes in appetite and/or weight


Feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness


Reliving upsetting memories


Inappropriate use of alcohol and/or medication

The Damage Untreated, caregiver burnout can lead to an inability to function in everyday life. It may also escalate into a life-threatening situation for the person with a disability, the caregiver and possibly other family members. Caregivers need loving support from friends and family. Unfortunately, the behaviors associated with burnout tend to push away friends and family when they are most needed. Fortunately, it is possible to recover from burnout and prevent it from happening again.

1. Count your blessings When I realized that I was in over my head, I made a list of all the people I could call to ask for favors. I asked one friend to bring over lunch and play with my older son while the baby and I took a nap. I asked another friend if she knew of anyone I could hire as a mother’s helper – and she did. I asked my mother to come stay with us for a few days. I called my insurance company and learned that there was a counselor one block from my house whose services were 100% covered. With each phone call I asked for one specific service that would help me. Those favors added up quickly.

2. Go to the doctor

Get a complete physical to rule out illnesses that may contribute to burnout. Caregivers often avoid going to the doctor themselves because they don’t want to leave their loved one even for a short time. It’s important to have a back-up caregiver for situations like this. Caregivers may also want to avoid discussing certain health problems. For example, my physician asked me questions about domestic violence when he saw dozens of large bruises on my body. I explained that my husband is gentle and loving, but that I was often injured while protecting my child from accidents. I don’t think the physician believed me, but he stopped asking questions.

3. Respite care Many people do not realize that it may be possible to get respite care through their localcommunity health agency - usually the fee is on a sliding scale, depending on income, and the primary caregiver is permitted to select the respite caregiver. The first step is to get a Person-Centered Plan (PCP) for the person with a disability. The PCP will outline the number of respite hours per month and how it will be paid for. The next step is to select the respite caregiver. It’s a good idea to start with brief respite periods and build up to longer periods as needed.

4. Healthy Lifestyle Find ways to eat nutrient-dense food, exercise more frequently and develop a regular sleep routine. Focus on changing one small thing at a time, for example, taking a walk after dinner or eating a green salad as a snack instead of chips.

5. Creative outlets

Self-expression can be healing and rejuvenating. Many parents of children with special needs have some sort of creative pursuit – photography and scrapbooking, music or writing, sewing or cooking, woodworking or making jewelry, landscaping and gardening. An Outlet can be something as simple as jotting down a few sentences in a journal or arranging seasonal items on an indoor “nature table.” My husband’s creative outlet is the computer: he composes electronic music and makes movies based on graphic representations of mathematical equations known as fractals. The results are definitely artistic.

6. Daily rituals Rituals are known to have a calming effect on the human mind. Prayer and meditation are wonderful, fulfilling rituals, but rituals are not necessarily religious. Drinking a cup of tea while watching the sun rise, saying “I love you” to someone, reading a page from a favorite book, stretching, making a gratitude list, talking to one friend every day are all examples of healthy rituals that can enrich our lives.

7. Personal boundaries

Saying “no” is a valuable skill. I am full of big ideas, but I have to limit myself to what I am able to do comfortably – if I stretch myself too thin, I am no longer able to care for my children.

8. Slow down and re-think priorities Adrenaline-fueled adventures can’t go on forever. For some odd reason, it wasn’t possible for me to stay awake with my son all day and all night. I had to think carefully about my goals for myself and my family. I needed time to rest and reflect on life. So I scheduled in quiet time and breaks every day. When I look back on the changes I made as a result of burnout, I realize that it was really an opportunity to re-discover joy in my life. Being a caregiver is a labor of love. It’s not enough just to survive. If I’m going to take care of others, I have to thrive. How do you prevent caregiver burnout? Let us know in the comments below.

Traveling with children