Special helpers for children with disabilities: The “Baby Xitter” service that provides value to the person

To be caregiver full time of a person with a severe disability it is a commitment that involves not only the body and the brain, but above all the heart. So if the person in need of treatment is one son – usually biologically predisposed to survive the parents and gradually build their independence – then the weight to be supported becomes almost overwhelming. Going for a walk with friends, an afternoon dedicated to your hobby or just leisure becomes a more unique than rare event. Territorial assistancemore often than not, it is inadequate and inadequate, and in any case, no one, like a relative, spends sufficient time with the disabled person from 6 p.m. really know his needs.

The question therefore does not seem solvable: Those who take care of their loved ones full time have no right to distractions or moments of recovery. He does not mean that Gianni Del Corraldirector and screenwriter from Turin, who in 2005 invented the term “Baby-Xitter“To specify a special educational figure, to support families with children and young people with all kinds of disabilities. Baby Xitter is not only equipped with everything necessary skills to replace a parent a few hours a day, but above all of sensitivity and the ability to share. Since then, the service he created of babysitter in the home for disabled children he has come a long way. Above all, thanks to the training courses that his association has developed, which give social workers the opportunity to specialize in home care for families. They, the families, were, of course, immediately enthusiastic, and the word spread rapidly throughout the country. In the fall of 2019, the term “Baby-Xitter” is even inserted in Treccani, as a new neologism that identifies the special babysitter for children with disabilities.

The Baby Xitter service was born out of Gianni Del Corral’s need to have a professional support figure for her child with a disability

Mr. Share Corral, how did your lucky idea come about?

“Of my need. At the age of three, my child was diagnosed with a rare syndrome. Soon I had to encounter too many gaps left by the welfare services and using the territory. Many associations are born for this. At that time I needed to open my home for people who were able to deal with disabilities who were as sensitive as possible and above all with the will to concretely help people with special needs. For example, my son has always needed a lot of speech therapy. the week we took him to the specialist, but at home we had to be parents to train him.The problem is that special children do not differ from other children and they want father and mother to just play with them, not become speech educators, physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists, etc … My son never wanted to do that. exercises. speech therapist with me, he got nervous and did not respond. In the end, of course, the results were not excellent. is like this make a difference. Parents are very skilled, but for children it is also important to ‘change hands’. So I tried to create a reality for disabled children between 0 and 17 years old who suffer from any kind of disability.

What does Baby-Xitter’s “X” stand for?

“It is the unknown factor for these our children, their disability factor, but also the added value we seek in the people who have to take care of them. When we announced the first announcement to form a group of operators, about 30 young people immediately joined, almost all from the University of Psychology and Education Sciences in Turin, therefore young people with a course of study already linked to help for the person ” .

Barbara and Rossana
Barbara became Baby-Xitter after losing her daughter Rossana to neurodegenerative disease

What kind of preparation do the courses promoted by Baby-Xitter offer?

“We have courses that are suitable for all types of disabilities, run by psychologists, counselors, experts in the field of play, nurses and above all by the families themselves. The basic training includes 4 lessons, but the modules can be extended indefinitely, depending on the operator’s needs. The special thing about the Baby-Xitter courses is that you learn things that are not written in books, but which are based on the real needs of the disabled and on the real lives of their families. An example above all: The national employment contract does not provide that educators can take care of the hygiene of the disabled child or administer medication to those who need their own treatment. I met a mother who because of this was forced to leave work every hour to go to give her son medicine and run back to the office. The Baby-Xitter, on the other hand, can administer medication and change diapers with parental permission. In this way, parents are confident and calm that the person they are leaving their child with for a few hours is perfectly able to replace them. Baby-Xitter is at the service of the family also in relation to all the figures that revolve around the child. He accompanies him to therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists and even attends school meetings. The children are better off, the parents are better off because they feel supported and less alone ”.

What were the most emotional comments you received from the families you helped?

“There have been many, but certainly one above all: ‘You have changed our lives’. Some time ago, an association of support teachers from Campobasso funded a one-year training project for Baby-Xitter. The first five of the course were assigned as many needy families in the area to be followed for 8 months. At the project’s recovery conference, I was able to meet the mothers who had received help: they were crying with joy, and one even said to me, ‘I did not think I could still get hours of relaxation in my life. Even if I was at home, I could pull the plug and breathe. No one can understand the meaning of these words if they do not live in certain situations. We also need rest because we are humans, not machines, and that does not mean we love our children less. Even though we as parents have discovered that we have strengths and resources that we did not think we had, one must accept the idea of ​​pulling the plug every now and then. Do you think I often find myself asking parents how long it has been since they last went to eat a pizza alone. The answer is almost always that they do not even remember it, because now they have lost the knowledge to be able to leave the house.

Barbara, Massimo and Rossana
Barbara, Massimo and Rossana

Barbara’s example

Among the special people who over the years have attended the “Baby-Xitter” course, we interviewed one with particular sensitivity and dedication. Called Barbara and it is Rossanas mora little girl suffering from Crab diseaseit is a neurodegenerative disease that took off when he was just over a year old.

Barbara, why did you sign up for the Baby-Xitter course?

“When your special child leaves the earthly world, you as a parent are suddenly thrown back into the ‘normal’ world, made of madness, rapid and continuous stimuli, extremely practical. On the other hand, the size of families with special children is different, rather than running flows and time only representing a variable, because emotions and the need to make contact come first. After Rossana’s death, I got back on my feet, I returned to the normal world, with a normal job, etc. But I also feel a need to remain in the magical dimension, which I have known thanks to my daughter, because the other in ultimately no longer belongs to me ’.

So you have decided to take the course to stay close to Rossana?

“Not really. Let’s say that in order to feel her alive, close to me, I do not have to look for her in other special children. But I did not want Rossana’s death to represent a moment’s end, the doom of the world, as we had built it together.I wanted and still want all the things I have learned from her and through her to be passed on to someone else, in short not to remain mine alone.As a mother who has had a special experience, I have a lot of luggage with me, but it’s a baggage to be tackled to be useful to others, and here the course was basic.Let me explain: While taking care of Rossanina, I expected anyone who approached her and all of us as a family, undoubtedly had a certain sensitivity and a certain way of doing things, but that she was at the same time an expert and competent. Direct experience, for otherwise I feared that I could nne get too emotional when I found myself in contact with other special children. A professional must be empathetic, but can not live any experience as if it were his own. During the Baby-Xitter course, I found the answer to my needs, because it takes care of special children in 360 degrees, so you can get close to people with different types of disabilities up to the very serious, just like my daughter was ”.

Barbara and Rossana
Barbara with her daughter Rossana

How do you feel when you are in contact with special children?

“Every child has special reactions. You have to get to know them, but without haste. Personally, I try to create a bond, little by little, I like to do it, and I can see that they respond well. Thanks the experience I have lived, I realize that I have several channels to get closer to, a non-verbal language that I know how to share, consisting of appearance, tone of voice, hints of welcome that we mutually recognize. What I found very positive in the Baby-Xitter course is that it does not leave you with a set of pre-established games, broken down by age or type of pathology, rather it allows you to observe the situation with a sensitized eye, an eye , there is usually only one parent.The course evokes a way of approaching these children which allows us to bring life and energy to their whole family.If it is well prepared, a Baby-Xitter knows how to bring ease, playing with the child involving the whole family.In case of very seriousness ge pediatric diseases there are really bad days, so it is nice to receive warmth and smiles, to distract from the gray of the hospitals and the disease. In this sense, external help can restore and balance emotions ”.

Would you like a Baby Xitter for Rossana?

“Let’s say I kind of had it. After the first six months of our daughter’s life and illness, where we had only experienced the coldness of the hospital doctors and the human inadequacy of territorial assistance, we were fortunate to meet an association that helped change perspective, introduce us to people and specialists with an empathetic, accommodating approach, not only to the child but also to us. People who offer work assistance, of course, but who are aware of their role and do not start looking at the clock while spending time with their families. People like me have also learned to be, thanks to the life that lived with Rossana, united in the Baby-Xitter course “.

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