Families with special needs children often assume the role of a manager in their homes. Performing some of the same duties managers who work corporate jobs except all of their training is on-the-job. Often times they are administrative support, making calls and scheduling appointments. They are also the HR director, hiring and firing doctors, therapists, and caregivers. Then they have to make executive decisions similar to that of any CEO and watch over the finances as the best CFO. These activities add a new level of stress to an already stressful situation.
Granted, most families have these responsibilities but add the emotional toll of caring for a child with special needs and making sure the siblings are not neglected, and maintaining a healthy marriage can be quite a challenge. A challenge rarely talked about and you don’t fully understand you are knee deep in the situation.
Well, this manager mom just recently found what seemed to be a perfect match to assist our son with his daily self-care—a handsome young man, who was trained in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Plus, he even looked like a family relative! This is a huge win. Because when they go out into the community the client-peer relationship won’t be as obvious. It simply appears to be a teen going to the mall, to the gym, a sporting event, or some other teen activity with a similar-aged relative. They would fit right in. Disability or not you don’t want to go to the dance with your mom now, would you?
Caregivers are there to relieve the family. In many cases, this allows the parents to work so you need someone dependable. However, because of the low pay rate, you may run into a few problems. As a result, you want to offer a good employee all of the normal perks to make the situation cohesive and long-term. Now, here is where it gets tricky. What happens, if the employee wants to take advantage of the situation by:
- Coming to work late,
- Change the schedule,
- Wanting to take your child on personal trips to the bank, etc.,
- Calling you during your workday with minor issues?
If you are single, you can most certainly expect the ridiculous assumption that you are lonely and seeking a romantic interest.
From our experience, once a lewd remark has been made, all your sensors should be on high alert. I learned that leaving that person with my child too often or for too long wasn’t wise. We needed to figure out if they were a low-key predator.
What are some other indicators of Low Key Predators?
Predators groom families by getting close to them. This technique is called disarming the victim. The predator wants to learn the family’s needs and/or fears. Asking you where your child will live when they are adults is no one’s business.
If you feel uncomfortable, it is not your imagination. You and your special needs child are seen as prey and ripe for exploitation by predators. What do you about it? Keep a log of the conversations. Discuss with others your suspicion. Become a true employer with a policy and procedures manual for the position. The policy and procedures manual should include the duties, boundaries, and training. It should also include performance reviews and bonuses if able.
Protect Your Home
Predators Cyber stalk to gather information about you and your family.
You see low-key stalkers are patient and the groom their victims with the long-term goal in mind. One solution is to give your staff separate cell phone number. Another solution is to make sure they have no access to your personal information or Wi-Fi. They are at your home to work. Wi-Fi should not be needed to help someone make a sandwich, brush teeth or clean their room. Also, no cell phones inside the home.
Another family shared how her grandmother’s caregiver stole a fork a week out of the china cabinet. By the time Thanksgiving came around there were only spoons left. Unfortunately, the installation of cameras may be necessary. And don’t forget to check them periodically. Always lock up your personal files and private quarters such as your bedroom or office if you have to leave the house.
Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said: “As is all too clear from our work with young people, children with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.”
Jane Bradley of the BBC Vitoria Deryshire reported that “There were 4,748 reports of sexual abuse against adults with disabilities over the past two years.”
What about in your hometown?
What about your family? Make sure to have a conversation with your child on what is and what is not appropriate physical contact. Set specific guidelines regarding staff and cameras and consequences for misconduct in your policy and procedures manuals. Be sure to include a statement that your child is not to be photographed without your permission nor should the picture be shared.
Most important, trust your instincts. Have a backup plan. Be prepared to stay home with your disabled loved one until other support is put in place. Please know you are not alone in this situation. Nor do you have to defuse the situation by yourself. Seek support groups, online articles and feel free to contact me via email with questions related to this topic. And lastly, don’t be afraid to call the police.
Hesma is a Risk Management Strategist, consultant, keynote speaker, and writer. She works with professionals to improve their business by analyzing and decreasing risk. The results are improved business revenue. Hesma is also the mother of two—one has autism. She’s a business owner and is the founder of the SEE project for individuals with disabilities and devout Christian.