The Story of Jerome, Robert and Alex | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana

New items provided through a grant from Plymouth Congregational Church now enable people to rest better and have more fun at Easterseals Arc’s respite house.

Respite services provide a break for caregivers of people with disabilities. Easterseals Arc is the only provider in Allen County with a house dedicated to respite services. A $1,500 grant from Plymouth Congregational Church last year provided funds for yard games, board games, DVDs, video games, and sensory items such as a beanbag chair, weighted blankets, textured items, sensory lights and a sound machine to provide white noise.

Easterseals Arc staff have seen how these purchases improve the lives of people who use respite services.

For example, Jerome is a young boy who has had trouble finishing his homework. His mother and staff at the respite house found it difficult to engage him in activities that would help him learn. However, when he saw the new Boggle game, Jerome was very excited. He worked on putting words and short phrases together. Staff would give him a couple words to spell, and he would use the dice with letters to work on spelling them. This simple game, first marketed nearly 50 years ago, has proved to be a great way for Jerome to work on short words.

Ashley Bouthot, who supervises the respite house, said these purchases for the house aren’t just for young people. She shared the story of Robert, an older man who lives with his brother and sister-in-law but sometimes stays at the respite house to give his caregivers a little time off.

“Robert has a hard time sleeping at night,” she said. Sometimes he gets up during the night and rummages through cabinets, hunting for food that belongs to other people staying in the respite house. Staff there tried the sound machine, hoping its white noise would drown out other sounds in the house.

“We turned it on for him one weekend shortly after we purchased the sound machine, and it worked wonders! He slept really well and didn’t get up during the night to hunt for food,” she said.

Alex is a young adult who comes to the respite house after he works at the Benchmark workshop all day. He stays at the house until his mother gets off work to pick him up. He is at the workshop by 7:30 a m. and often doesn’t get picked up until 7 p.m. These long days often wear him out, and there are many days when he likes to relax, unwind and keep to himself. When he saw the new board games purchased with the grant, however, he asked staff members whether they wanted to play Yahtzee with him. He got four people, including staff, together to play the games.

“During the summertime, we like to be outside as much as possible,” Bouthot said. “We purchased a sprinkler for the house so that the kids could run through the sprinkler. They loved it! They laughed and laughed! One of the young girls is nonverbal and has autism. She does not really play with other kids inside the house. She doesn’t like toys or anything. But once we got that sprinkler and water toys out, she lit up! She was so happy to be playing in the water.”

On occasions when the respite house needs to be used for other purposes, staff can take the games and other supplies with them to offer respite care at Easterseals Arc’s headquarters on Coldwater Road, Bouthot said.