My name is Chrissy, and I am a parent to young caregivers.
My name is Chrissy, I am a parent to 3 young caregivers. I have four children, one of them has autism and developmental delays. My son with autism is 12 years old, but mentally around 2 or 3 years. As a result, his siblings are de facto young caregivers.
My oldest son is 14 years, and as he’s gotten older, we have started relying on him to look more after our son with autism. He has a very special bond with our son with autism, he’s the one who gets him the most and who he trusts the most.
My daughter is 8 years old. We don’t give her caregiving roles per se but being around our son has immersed her in caregiving. I have started seeing her caregiving identity come out in other places. For example, there is a child in her class on the autism spectrum, and my daughter has developed a special bond with her to the point where my daughter is the one she trusts the most in school.
It’s a challenge as a parent to young caregivers to see how it affects them. For example, there are times when we are frustrated with our son with autism, and we get stressed out. My son takes on the role to try to protect us from these hard feelings. He will try to solve the issues to protect everyone. But that is a lot for a young kid to carry and that makes me feel guilty. They see a lot and they go through a lot!
Going to Powerhouse empowered all my kids. It gave them an outlet and a place to get another kind of attention than they get at home. It also supported their journey to becoming independent and helpful individuals. Even if they stopped going now, they were going there during their formative years. And it helped them! Our family owes Powerhouse so much.
I wish there were programs in schools that support young caregivers. It could be half an hour break for medication, to catch up on homework or to just take a break. When most kids go home, they get down time. But young caregivers don’t get that. And they need that break just as much.
“I sometimes feel guilty that my children are young caregivers.”
– Chrissy, parent to Young Caregivers