Tina Szymczak

There are 3 things that I feel helped Corbin and our family the most when he was in early years of elementary school. One was Camp Winston ; then there was Occupational Therapy and then respite. According to the Family Respite Services website

We are a Windsor-Essex community organization that works with families caring for children under the age of eighteen who have intellectual, physical and mental health disabilities. We facilitate the provision of respite services that contribute to:

  • The sustaining and enriching of a family’s quality of life.
  • Seek the fullest participation of the child in the community.

We have always felt it important that respite be viewed more as a way of connecting   Corbin to his community than a break for us. While needing a break was very real we also stressed to workers that Corbin also needed a break from his family. No kid should spend 24/7 with their parents.

I believe respite started around his 7th birthday. When we didn’t qualify for any other programs, Family Respite Services stepped in with some mental health dollars and we had a couple of hours per week when he did something fun with his worker.We had a wonderful coordinator, Jane, who stayed with us for over 10 years. She was always working to make sure Corbin had a good match in his worker and she was there for me when for so many years we could not figure out Corbin’s diagnosis thus we couldn’t get appropriate services. I can’t count the amount of times I sobbed over the phone and guiltily shared that I didn’t know how much longer our family could go on without the right help. There was nothing she could do to help us – but she listened and I will always be grateful for her in our lives.

Over the years we had several respite workers, all who were amazing in their own way. The following are just a few of them. Sarah was known for playing Playmobil with him – they would spend hours together just setting the scene for a war or storming the castle. This time with Corbin was so important for him because he was struggling so much at school and he had difficulty knowing how to play with toys. 2008-04-23-180132

Becky was great for taking Corbin out and doing activities in the community or visiting her cat. Even after she moved on she stepped in and helped us out when Corbin was going through his mental health crisis.

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Michelle came along just in time for Corbin’s greatest struggles. She endured rages and a complete inability to function out in the world. She was so calm no matter what was thrown at her (figuratively and literally) and I often wondered what kept bringing her back when things were so bleak.

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All of these ladies saved my sanity again and again. During their time with Corbin I could spend more time with my younger son Jeremy, run errands or hide in my room with a coffee and a good book. Sometimes we were able to arrange for care for our younger son and my husband and I would take the Respite time to go out for coffee and visit the bookstore. One glorious time we even went to see a movie.

It’s hard trying to convey how much respite helped our family. Without the reprieve and without the opportunities for Corbin to socialize and be successful we wouldn’t be where we are today.

January 31, 2017

Respite

There are 3 things that I feel helped Corbin and our family the most when he was in early years of elementary school. One was Camp Winston ; then there was Occupational Therapy and then respite. According to the Family Respite Services website We are a Windsor-Essex community organization that works with families caring for children under the age of eighteen who have intellectual, physical and mental health disabilities. We facilitate the provision of respite services that contribute to: The sustaining and enriching of a family’s quality of life. Seek the fullest participation of the child in the community. We have always felt it important that respite be viewed more as a way of connecting   Corbin to his community than a break for […]
January 26, 2017

The Words That Almost Take My Life

  Thanks for the concern – the following is an example of how I feel when depression overwhelms me – I am NOT feeling this way now. *** Failure Loser Incapable Unwanted Unworthy Words my mental illness plants in my brain. They sneak in under the cover of dark, rearing their ugly heads when I least expect it. Defences down, I am bowled over by the intensity and severity of the words. I do my best to fight. I do positive self talk and affirmations. I stay away from sad movies and TV. I seek out my husband who counteracts the force of the words. But sometimes, sometimes I can’t fight. They overwhelm me, those words. They tell me I […]
January 24, 2017

The Silent Killer

Diabetes is kicking my ass Really I know I have type 2 so the onus is on me to eat healthier and exercise more. I also have central sleep apnea which doesn’t always respond to my CPAP machine and often leaves me exhausted all day. Who feels like exercising when you have had no sleep? I also have Polycystic Ovaries which wreaks havoc on my hormones and leads to weight gain.  Which then makes the Diabetes worse. I also have depression – at times crippling depression and anxiety that make it hard for me to get out of bed in the morning let alone exercise on purpose. I use food as my emotional crutch.  Feel sad. Eat. Feel scared. Eat. […]
January 21, 2017

A Journey Through Family Centred Care

A few months ago I mentioned that I gave a 1.5 hour talk at a conference. It was at the Ontario Association for Infant and Child Development (OAICD) and the topic was Our Journey: Finding Hope and Courage within Family-Centred Care. The audience was small but perfect for my first solo presentation at a conference. I received the feedback from the conference in late November but was swamped with work and home stuff and didn’t get a chance to post.   Here is what people had to say: Fantastic! Definitely valuable insight that is needed to hear Best presentation in the whole conference! I’ll definitely be checking out her blog. Moving! Absolutely fantastic that Tina would or could share her family’s […]
January 14, 2017

A New Place to Write

I stumbled across a new site – Her View From Home – and if you click on the link it will take you to an article I wrote for the site. Please comment and share – the more unique pageviews for the next 30 days the more I get paid. Thanks in advance 🙂
December 14, 2016

Advocacy is not a 4-letter word

There are times where, as the parent of a child with a disability, you will be told to fight for what your child needs. Us “special needs moms” – we tell each other “fight for him, you know him best” and “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. People get worked up hearing other parent’s stories. At times I too have believed this way of thinking and engaged in my fair share of fights.  Last week I read a piece that spoke of being a Mama Warrior for your child with special needs and it just seared my heart.  I genuinely felt very saddened by the notion that as a whole, it is thought that parents of kids with a disability […]