Like most eight year-olds, Serenity knows what she wants. But unlike most kids her age, she can’t tell you with words.
Serenity has 19 different diagnoses, but her primary condition is Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum. This means the right and left hemispheres of her brain don’t speak to each other. She functions at the level of a six to nine month-old and often wears a helmet as protection from self-injurious behaviours.
Given Serenity’s complex needs along with her brother’s special needs, mom Kathryn and husband John knew they needed support from community services and turned to ErinoakKids.
Among a variety of services they’ve accessed from ErinoakKids, Kathryn and her husband have come to rely heavily on respite services. ErinoakKids’ respite services provide overnight and weekend care, as well as week-long care in the summer for children who are medically fragile, have complex care needs or behavioural challenges.
“I don’t know where we would be without ErinoakKids respite,” says Kathryn. “We know she’s safe and cared for, and she absolutely loves it. It gives us a chance to fill our buckets, so we can keep filling hers.”
For parents like Kathryn and John, respite provides a much-needed period of relief from their caregiving routines.
“Respite is an ongoing source of refuge for us,” Kathryn says. “We get to plug back into our family and get a chance to do things with our other two younger children that we can’t do with Serenity.”
In January 2018, ErinoakKids opened three new facilities, including a new 26-bed regional respite centre – the largest of its kind in Ontario, at The Giampaolo Foundation clinical site in Brampton.
“When I first walked into the new respite centre, I thought it was designed specifically for Serenity,” says Kathryn. “It has everything clinicians need to keep her safe, while also making it fun and engaging.”
Respite also gives her a voice, she adds.
“Staff support her and advocate for her,” Kathryn says. “It’s comforting knowing that people are there who truly care for her and want her to have new experiences. It gives her a break and a chance to just be a kid.”