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Katie and Liam's Story

“Having access to respite allows my husband and I to just talk.”

Katie and Liam are twins. They are both on the autism spectrum, have high sensory needs and experience social and emotional challenges. Ever since they were young, having play-dates with other kids proved to be challenging and disappointing, and Katie and Liam’s parents were left wondering if their children will ever get to experience the kind of play and freedom every child deserves. 

A photo of Katie and Liam

“It is difficult to give them the attention they need. My husband and I can’t always tag team the way we would like to,” says Julie, Katie and Liam’s Mom. “Unless my husband is around, one of the kids is left alone. And if he is around, we try to give them one-on-one time with us. We love to do this, but it means he and I don’t get much time together.”

But when Julie discovered the Regional Respite Centre here at ErinoakKids, all of that changed. 

“My daughter’s mental health was declining,” says Julie. “She wasn’t herself and I knew I had to find something. I had to do something different.”

Julie and her husband tried everything from recreational sports, to community programs, to camps. But nothing ever stuck. 

“The first time we enrolled them both in Respite, we didn’t know what to expect. We had never tried this before,” says Julie. “But it turns out, they really love it and thrive in the Centre. Respite allows them to go to another place. When they’re there, they get the attention they deserve, they get to play, and they interact with the other clients.”

Katie on her laptop 

Shortly after starting at Respite, the twin’s parents saw their daughter laughing and talking with friends, and saw their son riding a bike, releasing all the energy he has as a thirteen-year-old boy.

“They finally have a program they can go to and be themselves. Where they can laugh and be as loud as they want,” says Julie. “At the Regional Respite Centre, they feel like they fit in.” 

Julie expresses her love for the staff at the Regional Respite Centre as well, and says that everything from the onboarding to the care her children receive in the Centre has been phenomenal.

Liam poses with a drawing

“As a parent, it is so comforting knowing you are sending your children to a safe place. The staff are sensitive to the twins’ needs. Respite is a place where I don’t have to explain myself.

Julie describes Respite as her children’s joyful place. It's a place where Katie wears her “happy outfit,” and where Liam can exercise his body in a way that meets his sensory needs. A place that gives her and her husband a break from caregiving, and a much-needed chance to connect.

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