We are part of the Hospice Outreach program since when we first brought Sadie home we had hospice services in place. And once a month or every other month (I can't keep track) a woman named Pam comes to visit us and check in on how we're all doing. She was the first one who mentioned Ryan House to me. It's a place where families with special needs children can leave their child overnight to be taken care so they can get a break, go on vacation, etc.
At the time I just dismissed the idea because Sadie wouldn't take a bottle and nursing meant she was attached to me pretty much all day and all night. But now that Sadie's older, and I've learned more about Ryan House, I finally agreed to go tour.
From the moment we walked in the door we felt welcome. We had a hard time finding the parking lot, and the lady who opened the door for us told us exactly what to do about parking next time. Then we met our "tour guide" who first showed us the "wall of fame." It was a bulletin board with pictures of many of the kids who had stayed there. We even recognized a few of them. Then a nurse came toward us with a little kid in a stroller that we know from Foundation for Blind Children, so that was fun to see someone we know there.
The first room we saw was a parent/family suite. The first time your child stays there they ask that parents/families also stay just so the staff can become familiar with your child's routines and likes and dislikes and so that you're there to answer any questions. But they encourage you to relax and play and not worry about taking care of your child...that's what they're for. And anytime Sadie goes to stay there, we can stay too if we want...or we can leave town for a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary! I'm thinking next time Brian goes out of town for a couple of days for work, Sadie and I are headed to Ryan House!
From there we got a look at the children's rooms, the bath-room (literally where they have this giant bathtub with jets and self-regulating temperature, it's awesome), the laundry room, and the computer lab, where we can skype with Sadie while we're away if we want!! They also have a sensory room full of fun toys and equipment that Sadie would love. There is a vibrating table, a wall full of what looks like a lava-lamp sort of, and this projector that projects an image onto the floor, but then you can interact with the images by stepping/rolling on the mat, or waving over it. There's a craft room, and a pool, and even a quiet living room where someone can go just to chill out and read (that's where I'd be going to do work while I'm there!). There is a little garden outdoors where you can sit and enjoy the weather (in the winter), and a playground with a structure that has wheelchair/stroller ramps and bumpies to roll over! This place was amazing.
Because we qualify for respite care at Ryan House, we get 28 nights a year to stay there for free. There is some paperwork, of course, to fill out before we come, but I definitely think we'll be staying there soon! Stay tuned for more news about this!