“The first time Triston came to True Friends for a Respite weekend, he loved it. Actually, he didn’t want to leave,” Triston’s mom, Cassidy, shared with a laugh. “The following week, he asked to come again.”
Triston quickly became connected with weekday Respite at True Friends, which allowed him to come back every week, and he has been attending the program for more than a year. He loves swimming, hanging out in the sensory room and music room, and visiting fun locations around Minnesota like the Mall of America and the Minnesota Zoo.
Cassidy added that the Respite program has helped Triston with developing routines and knowing what to expect each day after graduating from his school program – a transition which can be very challenging for many families of children with disabilities. He also loves the peaceful serenity of the wooded location, and the instant calming effect it provides.
One of Triston’s favorite parts about coming to Respite, however, is getting to spend each day with his best friend, who also attends weekday Respite.
“Relationships are HUGE for Triston. Everything is based on relationships and trust,” Cassidy shared. “He doesn’t really communicate like you and I do, he can’t always tell me his wants and needs. So the fact that he can be with someone who just understands him without having to express it – they’re good for each other.”
She added that Triston has built wonderful relationships with many other participants, and with the Respite staff as well. He looks forward to seeing their friendly, familiar faces each day. Triston especially likes taking day trips with the group to go bowling, or to swim and walk at the community center.
From a caregiver standpoint, Cassidy is also grateful for the depth of relationships she’s experienced through the program. She is in constant communication with the staff who work with Triston, and appreciates their updates about how he’s doing from day to day and any challenges that may arise. She said she views the Respite staff as part of a caregiving team, and that she’s so appreciative of their genuine empathy and commitment to Triston’s care, independence, and growth.
“Respite at True Friends for Triston means that he has a place that he’s accepted, he has a place that’s his – his friends, his program, his day. He gets to go and be heard. It means a lot,” Cassidy, shared. “And for me, when I send him here, I know he’s safe, he’s having a good time, and he’s with people he trusts – and that’s huge for me.”