Meet John.  Over the last 12 months, it’s been difficult to find activities or programs where it’s comfortable for John to interact with other kids.  Aside from school, he hasn’t been out of the house.  John’s mom Lara heard about the Respite Saturday at Camp Orchard Hill from a friend and found the details on the S.A.F.E Autism website.  She was afraid at first to drop him off at an unfamiliar program.  But, when she picked John up after the first day, she knew it was a great decision. 

For 45 minutes on the way home, John talked!  He talked about balloons, playing tag and running around, meeting ponies and catching a fish.  He talked about his aide, Dave, who was kind and fun and wanted to hang out with him.  John’s favorite part of the day was the dance party with friends.  It’s difficult for John to make friends – but he talked about old friends that he’s known for years…and he talked about meeting new friends.   John said it was the best day of his life. 

Lara shared that while it’s nice to have a day to herself, to get things done without worrying, the most wonderful impact of Respite Saturday is the opportunity for her son to have fun, to make friends and to hear her son talking.  To have a safe and welcoming place for her son to BE is wonderful and refreshing and a true gift. 

Lara returned to our office on Tuesday that week to sign John up for a full summer of inclusive Day Camp programming.  We offered our Autism Grant to help fund their summer, but even so, Lara will spend the majority of her part time salary to make the summer possible.  Additional Respite Care funding will allow campers like John and parents like Lara the rare opportunity for engaging programming, needed physical activity, and comfortable social interaction. 

AllOne Foundation supported Orchard Hill to facilitate the respite program.  This is only one story of many the difference respite services can have for a family and the special needs of an individual. 

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