Quick Start Guide

June 22, 2018

Caregiver sleep is so important!

June 6, 2018

Caregiver sleep is a hot topic around our house so If I Need Help asked Ellie Porter from the Sleep Help Institute if they could share some important tips about sleep. Ellie asked Amy Highland one of their awesome sleep experts to write a guest blog for us. Here it is. Get ready to get a good night sleep tonight! 

If I Need Help makes wearable iD and offers a free Caregiver controlled special needs registry for our loved ones who may wander or need assistance in a critical moment.

How to Get Better Caregiver Sleep Despite the Stress

While many parents and caregivers find joy in their role, at times it can be a challenge, especially if you’re not getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep. Caregiver Sleep plays an important role in your mental and emotional health, yet it can be elusive with the stress of caring for someone with special needs. You can help yourself get more rest by developing good sleep hygiene and healthy stress management skills.

Develop Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene includes all the habits and behaviors in your life that contribute to the quality of your sleep. Healthy sleep starts in a bedroom devoted to creating a supportive sleep atmosphere. At night, that means keeping the room dark, quiet, and cool with the temperature between 60 to 68 degrees. Your mattress should support your preferred sleep position – stomach, back, side – so your sleep isn’t disrupted by aches and/or pains. Check mattress reviews to see if you’re sleeping on the best one for your needs.Your behavior during the day and close to bedtime greatly affects your ability to fall and stay asleep. A few sleep support habits that can improve the quality of your sleep include:

  • Keeping a Regular Bedtime: Your body relies on regular 24-hour biological and physiological cycles called circadian rhythms to time your sleep-wake cycle. A consistent sleep schedule helps your body acclimate itself to your natural rhythms and correctly time the release of sleep hormones.
  • A Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Like a regular bedtime, a bedtime routine helps signal your body that it’s time to fall asleep. Any activity that leaves you feeling calm and relaxed makes a good addition to your routine. Try to start the routine at the same time and in the same order each night.
  • Turning Off Screens Early: The bright light from televisions, smartphones, and other electronic devices suppresses the release of melatonin. Try to shut off your screens at least two to three hours before bed to prevent a delay in the onset of sleep.

Incorporate Stress Management Methods

For most people, stress cannot be avoided, and that’s especially true for caregivers. However, there are strategies that can help alleviate, manage, and control your stress.

  • Meditation: In a study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, participants who practiced mindfulness meditation reported 33 percent less stress while noting an increase in their overall well-being. Two months after the conclusion of the study, participants still reported having less stress. Meditation teaches the mind to focus on present sensations rather than the anxiety-causing past or future. While 15 to 20 minutes of meditation is best, in as little as 5 minutes per day you can start to see some benefits.
  • Yoga: A study conducted at UCLA found that after eight weeks of a 12-minute daily yoga practice, participants showed “a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation.” Stress causes inflammation, which means that a reduction in inflammation often results from a reduction in stress.
  • Writing It Out: A journal next to your bed gives you a chance to write down thoughts that may keep you awake. For some people, it may be as simple as having a place to list tasks that need to be remembered. Others benefit from writing down stressful events from the day followed by their emotional responses. Yet others, benefit from having somewhere to record thankfulness and gratitude.

Together, good caregiver sleep hygiene and stress management can help you get the rest you need and take better care of yourself. By taking care of yourself, you’re maintaining the health you need to care for those closest to you too.

Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.

Safety Tool for special needs kids and police.

June 2, 2018

If I Need Help asked our friend Emily Iland to share information about her incredible safety tool “Be Safe The Movie” . BE SAFE is excellent for helping teach your child, teen or adult to interact safely with the police. This is an excellent safety tool we believe in.
If I Need Help makes wearable iD and offers a free Caregiver controlled special needs registry for our loved ones who may wander or need assistance in a critical moment.

Be Safe The Movie!

The Safety Tool You Haven’t Thought of Yet


Many families who live with the risk of having a child (or adult) wander or bolt from home

Many families who live with the risk of having a child (or adult) wander or bolt from home already know some of the key safety strategies to address the situation:
• Keep doors and windows securely locked and/or alarmed.
• Print out a Google Earth map of your neighborhood identifying all nearby bodies of water.
• Enlist neighbors to keep an eye out for your child (or an adult in your care).
• Use identification systems like If I Need Help, or even tracking devices like AngelSense.
While all of these things can help, here is one more safety strategy to consider: Teach your child, teen or adult to interact safely with the police. Especially if your “wanderer” has autism or another developmental disability, they need to be explicitly taught how to interact safely with the police.

Police often become involved in a search for a vulnerable person with a disability

Why? Because the police often become involved in a search for a vulnerable person with a disability, considered a “critical missing person.” If the police are unfamiliar strangers, the person being looked for might panic, fight, run or hide from rescuers. Each of these understandable reactions can be dangerous for different reasons.

For example, a panicked person might run into the street to get away from an officer who is only trying to reunite him or her with their family. A person who is taught, “Don’t talk to strangers” might hide in the bushes every time a rescuer comes near, putting their health and safety at risk. These examples underscore the importance of teaching about the helping roles of the police and not to fear officers.

Individuals of all abilities also need to learn to cooperate with the police and follow instructions, for their own safety. Examples include learning to stop when told to do so (again, think of preventing someone from running into traffic). It is dangerous to assume that the person will be able to follow instructions from the police during an emergency with no preparation. It is far easier to cooperate with police when the person is familiar with their instructions and has had a chance to practice before needing the skill in real life.

The secret is using teaching tools that are well-matched to the way your loved one learns.

These kind of safety skills are challenging to teach, requiring patience, time and effort. The secret is using teaching tools that are well-matched to the way your loved one learns. Joey Travolta of Inclusion Films helped me create BE SAFE the Movie to teach seven essential safety skills for interacting with police. While we designed it to teach those with autism and related disabilities, the 1-hour DVD can benefit anyone, disability or not. BE SAFE uses video modeling, a powerful teaching safety tool that can reach people of all ages, cognitive abilities and language levels. Our actors are individuals with autism and related disabilities, interacting with real police officers, which makes it really authentic!

BE SAFE plants positive visual images in people’s minds that they can draw upon during an encounter with the police, whether it is a casual meeting, needing help, or even a rescue. Remember, you don’t have to be able to speak to benefit from video modeling, and you don’t have to be able to speak to follow instructions from the police.

Because some learners need more information and practice and so few tools are available, I created the BE SAFE companion curriculum. It includes 7 lessons and 300 pages of teaching tools that help parents and teachers reach diverse learners. These BE SAFE materials are available at our website, www.BeSafeTheMovie.com .

In addition, BE SAFE can now be streamed into classrooms 

through a subscription from TeachTown (TeachTown.com). Isn’t that an important safety tool you want to see in your local school and in your child’s classroom? I know I would have wanted that opportunity for my own son with autism when he was in school!

Next time Erin and Bruce invite me to be a guest blogger I’ll talk about ways to create positive, personal relationships between your child and local police. For a preview, check out our new video and photo gallery at www.BeSafeTheMovie.com

You wouldn’t leave the front door unlocked and just hope for the best, would you? Don’t leave safety to chance when it comes to teaching your child to interact safely with the police! Whatever tools you choose, today’s a great day to get started teaching. When it comes to your child’s safety, ensuring that your child knows what to do in an encounter with officers is one more step to take for peace of mind.

Emily Iland

Emily Iland is an award-winning author, advocate, educator, film-maker and the mom of a young man with autism. She has more than 20 years of experience training the police about autism (www.ExperienceAutism.com). She discovered that while training the police is essential, it is not enough. Youth and adults with autism and related needs also need to learn what to do when they meet the police! Emily and her son Tom are bringing BE SAFE to Omaha, NE the week of June 10 and Phoenix, AZ in August. Learn more about Emily and her many projects at www.EmilyIland.com or contact her at emily@BeSafeTheMovie.com