Special Needs Parent Respite Opportunities in NYS

*A version of this post was first published on March 22, 2016. This post contains affiliate links.

I know from personal experience that special needs parents suffer with more than their fair share of stress, worry, and anxiety.

At times, life as a special needs parent can be so overwhelming that we can’t even think straight.

It’s just a plain and simple fact that if special needs moms and dads are to continue functioning as the loving parents that we are, we simply must take a break from our 24/7 constant parenting duties once in a while.

Special Needs Parent Respite

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Special needs parents are under extreme pressure to make decisions about our children’s health care and therapies.

Some of us are in constant battle with school districts trying to persuade them to provide a free and appropriate education for our special little learners.

We relentlessly worry about our children’s future.

Many of us suffer with despair, depression, and insomnia.

Constantly experiencing such intense stress takes a major toll on our physical, mental, and spiritual well being.

If there was ever anyone who needed a break, it’s special needs parents.

I’ve done a little research and came up with three agancies in NYS that provide the kind of “getaway” experience all special needs parents could benefit from.

It is my sincere hope that you will be able to take a break and get away from it all at one of the following fine retreats which are designed especially for over worked, over stressed, and overwhelmed special needs parents!


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1) David’s Refuge provides a place of respite (free of charge) for parents and guardians of children with special needs or life threatening medical conditions where they will be refreshed, restored, and renewed in their role as caregivers.

There are several “country setting” bed and breakfast retreat locations throughout the lovely Syracuse/Auburn NY area to choose from.

Visitors can enjoy either a one or two night stay.

Breakfast is included in your stay, lunch is on your own, and you will receive one complimentary dinner at a nearby restaurant!

You may wish to also take advantage of one complimentary spa treatment while you’re there!

Activities are on your own, but you might want to visit the many nearby state parks, waterfalls, and forests in the area!

*Please be aware, that your children cannot accompany you to this retreat because they are designed to be a getaway for parents only.

However, David’s Refuge does offer financial help in paying for a caregiver to look after your special needs child while you are away!

purple-divider-Copy-Copy (1)2)The Brian Bisgrove Home of Courage is a retreat and respite home for families with children who have life threatening or severely debilitating medical conditions. Through the generosity of others, children and their families are invited into the beautiful, handsomely-appointed log cabin for a 3-day stay of rest and repose and to experience tranquility and hope, all free of charge.

Everything you’ll need to enjoy quiet and relaxed family time for your stay is provided, from linens to towels, meals to dishware, and many other amenities.

Families can stay for up to 3 days with all costs covered.  The fridge and pantry is fully stocked with all the ingredients you’ll need prepare your family’s favorite recipes/

You will enjoy roaming through acres of woods and there are fields and streams to explore.

Try paddle boating or fishing on the large pond  and take the opportunity to experience the beauty, history and entertainment in and around Auburn NY/

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3)Wellness Gifts Retreats has been giving, “Inspiration to the souls” of many special needs parents and their children since 2001.

These retreats were the awesome idea of Janet Opila-Lehman whose vision was to provide educational, social, therapeutic and respite activities for children with special needs and their family members.

These special needs family camping retreats are located at the fun and friendly Hickory Hill Camping Resort in Bath, NY.

A one day retreat in May is available, as well as three weekend retreats: one each in June, July, and August.

My family has greatly benefited from and enjoyed attending several weekend retreats over the years.

We’ve met Janet and can honestly say,  that she is a lovely woman who truly does care about and want to help special needs families!

Each year the retreats have a special theme and this year’s 2016 theme is Island Adventure Camp.

If you decide to attend one of this year’s retreats, I know you will not be disappointed!

Each family is appointed a personal aide to assist their special needs family member, keep an eye on their other children as well, and get the kids involved in fun theme related games and activities.

While the kids are well cared for and occupied, parents can opt to attend workshops, get a massage at the spa (for an extra fee) or just take a break away from the kids and do nothing at all!

Families can opt to either bring their own camping gear or stay in one of Hickory Hill’s air conditioned cabins or cottages which are fully equipped with all the comforts of home, including cable TV and many are wheelchair accessible.

Meals are included in your stay.

In fact, on Saturday night there is a lovely dinner just for parents while the kids enjoy a picnic supervised by all their assistants!

During your retreat your family will also be able to enjoy the pool, splash pad, jump pillow, laser tag, game room, mini golf, disc golf, wagon rides, playground, and hiking.

There’s also a snack shop, camp store, activity hall, golf cart rentals, doggie park, and laundromat!

*Please be advised that your stay at Wellness Gifts Retreats is not free of charge.

However, there are scholarships available if you reside in Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming of Yates Counties

If your special needs family member receives OPWDD services he or she may also qualify for funding. Ask your medicaid service coordinator for more information.

Information for this post has been taken directly from each retreat’s websites.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks if you make a purchase using one of my links at no extra cost to you!

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