Recently a story in my local paper jumped out at me. A single mom had been taking her son with autism (now 2.5 years old) to the babysitting service provided at her fitness club while she exercised. But after a year of regular visits, the boy was no longer welcome. Specifically, babysitting staff thought he required one-on-one supervision — something they couldn’t provide.
A tough situation. All parents need a chance to exercise and care for themselves. Many parents of kids with special needs see exercise as a lifeline. In fact, the mom in this story had been advised by her doctor to exercise regularly to combat stress.
Over the long term, stress can put our health at risk. In a 2009 study, researchers followed a group of moms of teens and adults with autism. They measured the women’s hormone levels in order to assess their stress level. Surprisingly, these moms were found to have stress levels similar to those of soldiers in combat.
Unfortunately, there are barriers to stress-busting exercise. Especially if your child has behavioural or medical needs, using a mainstream fitness centre childcare can be impossible, even for an hour. So what’s a stressed-out mama (or dad) to do?
Do you use fitness club or community centre babysitting so you can exercise? Have you ever been turned away because of your child’s special needs?
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