Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Value of Respite

Aug 8, 2017

“After my mother died and becoming the primary caregiver of my three children because my husband works very long hours I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel for my family.”

It hasn’t always been easy for the Cattarusa family, a family of five.  In fact, at times is seemed as though there was no light as the end of the tunnel for Jessica, a stay-at-home mother to three small children.

Life took an unexpected turn seven years ago, when her eldest son, Saul (affectionately called Francisco, named after Jessica’s mother, Francis) was diagnosed with developmental and intellectual delay.  She first noticed something was different when she watched him interact with his pre-school classmate and saw how he used his hands to indicate what he wanted instead of words.  Following Francisco’s diagnosis, she was told he would require special education classes including speech therapy and sign language to help him communicate.

Since that time, Jessica and her husband have done all that they can to support Francisco, now age 10.  Although, he’s still not at the same level as other 6th graders his age, he’s progressing steadily at a comfortable pace.  He’s developed a fondness for watching TV, enjoys playing sensory games and activities that require concentration.  His two younger siblings, Cynthia, 7 and Andres, 6 also keep him busy and try their best to keep him in line, which isn’t always easy.  Cynthia, referred to as “Little Mamma,” often instructs Francisco on how to do certain tasks, like putting on his shoes.  When he does it right, she praises him and when he does it wrong, she corrects him.  At times, he shows his independence by purposely defying her – his way of conveying he’s still the older brother.

With three children, one with special needs, life at times can be overwhelming.  Before discovering UCP’s Family Respite Program, Jessica admits to feeling stressed frustrated and often times alone.  Her husband’s busy work schedule meant she was the sole caregiver during the day, and she struggled to be there for her children.  It wasn’t until she was referred to UCP’s Family Respite Program that she finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  Through respite care she now has the relief she’s been looking for.

Today, UCP’s Family Respite Program has given the Cattarusa family a new lease on life.  Jessica and her husband have been able to reconnect and date nights are now a regular occurrence.  Leaving home is no longer a concern because they know their children are happy with the respite caregivers.  Relying on UCPS Respite program has reduced stress in the household.  Francisco is continuing to learn new skills and gaining new independence, and best of all, the family, with the support they need can now focus on the bright things in life!