Our Au Pair of the Year winner and runners up all share something very special this year. Each joined a family with at least one special needs child. The nominations submitted by their host families included heartwarming stories of how the attention and extra help from an au pair made a difference in the progress and well being of these kids, helping the whole family along the way.
This year’s Au Pair of the Year was nominated by the Brant family. The Brants have twin children, one of whom has cerebral palsy. We were very touched by their story — and our announcement of Au Pair of the Year happened to align with Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. As March 25 is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, we encourage everyone to wear something green in support.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cerebral palsy directly affects 1 in 323 children in the U.S. I say directly, because although only one of the Brant’s children has cerebral palsy, it is something that impacts their whole family. They described how everyone must come together to manage therapeutic treatments and dietary restrictions and still manage to have fun and enjoy family time.
Anyone with a special needs child can relate to the stress and sometimes overwhelming responsibility; balancing personal and professional life can seem like an impossible dream. For these families, the care provided by au pairs can be life changing. The Brants had this to say about how their au pair helped them manage the joys and responsibilities of parenting with a special needs child:
“Our au pair has been a champion – she helps to manage our daughter’s diet better than anyone in the family… She has also been a tremendous resource academically, patiently working to help her learn at a more realistic pace given some of her setbacks… Our au pair has been an expert in “lefty games,” encouraging her to work more effectively with her left side… she became a resource to keep our household manageable and fun at the same time.”
The Brants also explained how important it is to make sure each child is getting enough time and focus when one naturally requires extra attention. They shared this additional benefit of having an au pair in their home:
“With everything going on with our daughter, our au pair has also won the heart of our son. He sometimes receives less attention than his sister given his easier path in life but our au pair always ensures he gets the attention and time he needs. She spends time playing games with him and spurring on his curiosity.”
On behalf of Au Pair in America, thank you to all of our au pairs that help families with special needs children. It’s enough stress raising any child these days, and the friendship and support you provide for families facing extra challenges is admirable. Kudos to you!