24 Hour Home Care’s Social Recreation Program is Empowering Families with Children with Disabilities
Maria’s 8-year-old son Jessie James has autism and the family struggled whenever they needed to take him outside of their home. A new program called “Social Recreation” is addressing their challenge, and has enabled Jessie James to go back to school, feel comfortable attending errands, and even enjoy an overnight trip.
Maria never used to feel comfortable taking her son Jessie James anywhere outside of their own residence — making it hard for her to grocery shop and run other essential errands for the family. Jessie James has autism and struggles in public situations due to noise and unfamiliarity, often leading to him having outbursts and running. Maria always feared she wouldn’t be able to catch him, or worse, that he’d run into some type of danger. This also prevented Jessie James from attending school.
The family receives in-home care support services through Redwood Coast Regional Center, but the support was only enough to keep Jessie James cared for at their home so Maria could leave for doctor’s appointments and other basics. While she was thankful for this respite care, she knew deep down that it wasn’t addressing the root of her family’s challenges, which was getting Jessie James to feel comfortable in social settings.
That all changed this past year when Jessie James became one of the first children to be eligible for a new program through 24 Hour Home Care called “Social Recreation.” The service line aims to provide socialization and recreational opportunities for Californians of all ages with developmental disabilities and was recently reinstated by the State of California after being on pause for more than 10 years due to budget constraints.
Maria selected her husband’s sister Barbara, who already provided respite care for the family, to be his care provider for Social Recreation. The family worked with Barbara to set goals for him:
- Develop, initiate, and maintain social interactions with other children within his age group
- Be exposed to his local park and recreation center and participate in any class that may include anything that involves music, singing, dancing, or animals
- Assist his mother/Barbara with purchases at his local supermarket on a weekly basis
To ensure Jessie James is on track with his goals and provide any needed support to Barbara, 24 Hour Home Care’s Social Recreation Specialists do monthly check-ins to survey his progress.
Since the pair started doing Social Recreation together, Barbara has found her own life’s purpose of helping families with children with disabilities. She’s formed a support group for parents and leads social get-togethers for the kids, including park and library meet-ups, nature walks, lunch outings, a Lego club, and more.
“Barbara has been so amazing with Jessie James,” said Maria. “She has a special bond with him
and has been so supportive in bringing him out in public and working directly with his therapist. They do everything together!”
Today, Jessie James is back at school on a modified schedule, something Maria thought wouldn’t be possible. He regularly goes to the farmers market to pick out his own food, and he’s found a group of friends his own age who share in his interests, Motocross, fox racing, and nerf guns to name a few.
Now, when Jessie James becomes overstimulated in public, he runs directly to Barbara (rather than running away) and Barbara de-escalates the situation. Their flourishing relationship even enabled the entire family to enjoy an overnight stay at the Great Wolf Lodge water park —an opportunity of a lifetime for a family who not long ago, felt like they couldn’t leave their home for even a couple of hours at a time.
Social Recreation has given Jessie James and his family the confidence and ability to enjoy outings most families take for granted. With all the time everyone has spent at home due to COVID-19, Maria hopes families like hers take advantage of Social Recreation and see the value it has in supporting emotional health.
“Kids with disabilities and their families deserve to go to movies, eat out, and enjoy public spaces too,” said Maria. “Social Recreation has been a blessing and life-changing for my family. There are many people having the same struggles that we did who are afraid to take their children out in public by themselves. This program offers the needed support and unique view of a care provider to help families like mine enjoy life outside the home.”
If you have questions regarding eligibility for Social Recreation, please contact your local regional center Service Coordinator. You can also click HERE and 24 Hour Home Care can assist in facilitating a conversation with your Service Coordinator to see if you qualify.