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“I’ve seen so much growth in Kevin. He’s so much more open to communicating when we go out into the community,” said HeartShare SPA Respite Manager Donna Collins. HeartShare’s SPA (Serving People with Autism) Overnight Respite Program provides much-needed rest to families caring for relatives with a disability. Kevin has been participating in the program for over three years. During his two week stays at the SPA Respite home, Kevin has not only learned how to make his bed and take out the garbage, but also enhanced social skills while shopping and dining out in the Staten Island community. The HeartShare SPA Overnight Respite Program opens up an entirely new world for those involved. “Some families have spent their entire lives caring for a child with special needs and have never taken the time to go on vacation without their child,” explained Joyce Levin, HeartShare Senior Vice President of Developmental Disabilities Services. Such families start with small steps, such as an overnight stay, and ultimately, become comfortable enough to entrust their children to HeartShare’s care in order to take a real one- or two-week vacation. Once participants acclimate to being away from family, HeartShare staff can focus on building activities of daily living skills. The ability to bring these life skills home, combined with families comforted by the fact that their children are in a safe, healthy environment with nurturing staff, enhances everyone’s overall quality of life.
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