Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Free Premium Membership Weekend to Find Help at

I have been spending the last few days at checking out the free premium membership offerings that are available this weekend. It starts off at midnight pacific time Friday, April 24th and goes through this weekend.

I had heard of but honestly I never really knew what the site was about. I am glad I had the opportunity to explore this site in detail because what I found was very organized search options for finding special needs care.

As the parent to two teens on the autism spectrum I require someone with related experience pertaining to behavior, feeding, communication, stimming, bathing/grooming and hygiene. I prefer them to have their own transportation and to be a non-smoker.

Your search can be limited to availability on short notice, various age groups, individual or company, hourly rate, age of caregiver, mileage from the home, disability and key words.

The initial search for someone to care for special needs has a drop down box with disabilities that include:

Blindness/Visual Impairment
Cerebral Palsy
Down Syndrome
Food Allergies
Fragile X
Seizure Disorder
Sensory Integration Disorder
Speech Delay
Tourette Syndrome

The next step is to input your zipcode and choose the mileage in five mile increments from 1-50. There will be a list in the middle of the page with results showing ten possible caregivers per page. This list can be changed according to age, name, city, experience, distance, membership length and refine the search. I have done this several times, changing the distance and the care service experience.

In all honesty it can be a bit overwhelming to see all the options to find someone to assist in the care of the special needs child. The profile pages of the caregivers contains all sorts of data at your fingertips.

I searched using "autism" in the keyword and also wanted to only see profiles of members with a photo and who had logged in within the last two weeks. This can also be last week or last month. I specified wanting experience with teens. This has the age range of 12-17. Another option here is if they are comfortable with pets. This I did not check off since we only have a cat.

The general information in this refined search has drop down boxes for the provider's age, gender, language and hourly rate. I left the default "any" for provider age, gender and hourly rate on all my special needs searches. I specified for housekeeping female only.

Some of the options for care service experience you can search include:

Assistive Technology/AAC
Behavior - Applied Behavior Analysis
Brushing Protocol
Epi Pen Injections
G Tubes
Respiratory Care
Sign Language
Stimming Attendance

There is also a willing to learn section - if that box is checked the caregiver is open to learning new skills. Under other services the options cover - medical transport, errands, shopping, laundry, meal preparation and housekeeping. There is another box for choosing part or full time plus live-in or out.

I really limited my results when I chose AAC and stimming, which left me with no one. Once I changed my search choices I found 6 caregivers within my categories. Their profiles had some interesting information for me to limit my choices even further.

At the profile of the caregivers I saw the last time they logged in, their reviews if any, their certifications, their background check - which is a verification of their social security number and a national criminal records search. You need to apply to obtain this information if it is readily available at their profile. The reviews are also available in audio. I found one profile that had one waiting for approval.

The profile has their name, age, years of experience, hourly rate, availability, response to messages, ratings, diagnosis experience, specific care experience, additional options, qualifications, education, language. There is a check mark indicating experience. The chart lists all days of the week and time frames with checks for openings.

What really caught my eye was not responding to all messages as I found some that had 50% listed there. I was quite interested in the blurb the caregivers used to describe themselves. I would think of this like the opening paragraph of a resume. The remarks by some had nothing to do with caring for special needs or their terms used were not appropriate.

I would prefer someone with CPR, First Aid for their qualifications. One of the choices in my search had let these expire but was willing to take them. I was surprised at this statement as I would rather someone want to do this on their own to speed up the hiring process.

There are green tabs at the top of each profile so you can switch over to child care, tutoring, pet care, housekeeping and senior care. These are all dependant on what the specified caregiver is interested in providing at One profile I read had housekeeping and tutoring while some others just had child care and special needs.

The other options in the green tabs is the contact to send a message, reviews to read, background check, videos and your notes on this profile. The notes are for your eyes only.

I like that there is a page for me that shows my messages, my stats, care exchanges, my jobs, my favorites and my profile and settings. When I logged back into the site my messages were at the home page for me to review. My stats showed that I sent 3 messages and received 1 reply, plus that I had logged in five times. I have two profiles in my favorites and two emails. When the background check was approved by the caregiver for me to access I received an email.

The care exchange is a way for caregivers to get service from other members/caregivers. I uploaded a profile picture and my settings allowed for me to receive listings of new members in my area and for weekly care tips and advice.

While in the special needs section at the main page for the initial search I noticed this was also an area for articles. I did not see anything pertaining to autism at the present time.

I received an email with profiles showing all new members in my location. I contacted two for special needs with specifics for summer help to go to a conference. The one reply said she is a college student and not sure her summer schedule yet. I also contacted one person in regard to Housekeeping. That is also an extensive search. I utilized bathroom, kitchen, windows and refrigerator cleaning for my housekeeping search.

They also have oven cleaning, attic or basement cleaning, pet cleanup, plant care, house sitting, laundry, dishes, cabinet cleaning. Too bad they did not have painting, but they did have wall cleaning, which is something a family with a child on the autism spectrum can surely use.

I rent the stove and refrigerator and would like to get my own refrigerator, so this is something of interest. I asked in my email how long it would take to do this type of job and what it entailed.

The hourly rates for special needs varied from $10-15 all the way to almost $50 per hour. The housekeeping was less expensive. I am looking forward to finding someone to meet my two search requests. The summer camp wants parents to go to a group orientation in June and children are not allowed. I need to find someone for a few hours one evening. Also every August is an autism conference on a Saturday and Sunday. I am waiting to see the schedule and considering going if I can find someone to watch my sons for about 6 hours one day.

I do have respite care through the Regional Center here in California, they pay very low and there is a revolving door. I have a problem with them not speaking English clearly and am hoping the results will be rewarding through

I hope these details are helpful to other autism families, as well as other special needs so that you will sign up for the free premium membership this weekend to find care. We all need to take care of ourselves, an evening out for dinner, the movies, a concert, a day spa are all something to consider when you find the right caregiver at

Mother's Day is a few weeks away while summer is just around the corner. Maybe you need the house cleaned up, the dog taken for walks while away for a few days or at work long hours, or someone to assist with some light chores or child care.

I suggest taking advantage of the FREE Premium Weekend at I liked the layout and options so much that I am considering offering services in the fall to other families of special needs kids for mornings or senior care to help out another caregiver that may need a few hours break.

I hope to see you at

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