Autism diagnosis brings a lot of extra work into the life of parents, particularly mothers. You have to keep up with appointments and therapist visits, manage home aides, read books, and search websites for helpful resources. Even your leisure time at home becomes “therapy time” with your neurodiverse child.
To fulfill intensive and special care services for the autistic child, every family member has to rearrange their schedule and life within a systematic approach. While maintaining a balance between working life and family functioning, it becomes harder for both parents to work full-time. Reports verify that mothers of autistic children experience significant career disruptions in these cases.
Today, we will discuss tips on managing work while being a full-time therapist and caretaker for your autistic child and what questions to consider before stepping down from your job?
Questions to ask yourself before deciding to quit your job
Your decision to be a stay-at-home mother to cater to your autistic child’s needs is an entirely personal matter. Here are some questions to consider before sacrificing your entire career for your child’s special needs:
Can you afford to be unemployed in the long term?
Do not quit under the emotional influence of your child’s disorder; instead, ask ourself these questions before arriving at a conclusion:
- Would you and your partner be able to afford your child’s treatment, therapies, and special education after quitting your job?
- Is your partner’s income going to be enough in the long run?
- Can you cut down on expenses or rent your space, or have other means to support yourself?
- Will you be able to make peace with quitting your career and not be resentful of your child’s disability?
Does your child need full-time attention?
Some children on the spectrum can function normally in social settings and need much less therapy or supervision from a guardian.
If your child has mild behavioral deficits, you could also take a leave for a few months or work from home while arranging caretaker and scheduling therapy sessions with the specialists.
Check for school-based and government-based institutes
Some parts of the world or some countries offer services like:
- Applied behavioral therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Social skills therapy
If you have access to these facilities in your area, you wouldn’t need to supervise your child all day long. Or you could relocate to a place where these services are better provided, and you can also manage to continue your career there.
Are you ready to be your child’s full-time caretaker?
Providing at-home therapy for a few hours is much easier than spending 12-18 hours daily. If the thought of spending every day in therapy seems daunting instead of energizing, then choosing professional services would be a much better option.
Recognize your capabilities and limitations rather than worrying about society while making up your mind.
How much does your career matter to you?
Most people are passionate about their careers and love socializing with coworkers, while some actively seek job change. If you are ardent about your job, then giving it up to supporting your child full-time will most likely lead to depression, frustration, resentment, and negative experiences with your child.
Alternatively, this might be the perfect reason to say goodbye to your boring, 9-5 job and maybe start doing your own thing that you are passionate about from the comfort of your home. For instance, it could be a business or freelance career.
Ways to balance work and parenting a child with autism
Working beside additional responsibilities of your child with autism can be very challenging. Here are a few ways to manage work and parenting responsibilities towards your autistic baby side by side:
Demand flexibility from your employer
More and more companies are easing their employees by giving them the opportunity to work from home or hybrid working. Make use of this opportunity to save time and money while being more available to your autistic child’s needs.
Ask your employer to change your shift hours or help you hire an assistant to manage work. Inform your boss that you are not looking for less work but rather the position that fits your needs and timings.
State your reasons for flexibility
Do share your reasons for needing the flexibility of working from home or changing shifts. You do not have to overshare; just share enough to make your point understood.
For instance, let the boss or HR know your child’s condition and the therapies that you need to be part of regularly. You could be lucky enough that your company might already have protocols in place for parents of special children.
Consider switching your job
Another best option for you could be to change your job and find one that offers flexible work timings, shift options, health insurance, and even a day-care facility for your child.
Freelancing, entrepreneurship, and telecommuting are startling options to explore because you get to work on your own time and manage your workload.
Share your family duties
You do not have to bear the burden of mom or parenting duties all the time. Rely on your partner to share your responsibilities and work out a schedule that works for both of you.
As a single parent, childcare duties along with work can get extremely crushing. Ask for help from your family, parents, or relatives, and do not turn down favors when you get them. In order to care for your child, you need to take a mental, physical, and emotional break too.
Take time out for yourself
Make sure that besides your job, child, and family’s needs, your needs are also taken care of. Do not hesitate or turn down an invitation to a party, meet-up, or yoga classes for the sake of responsibility towards your child, spouse, or family.
Being conscious of your boundaries can help you avoid reaching the breaking point. So, be aware of your mental and emotional needs, and take time out for yourself whenever you need.
Get a trusted caretaker
Getting a caretaker to watch out for your child is a good investment to make when you have a job on the side. You will find many online resources that will help you direct to the reputable centers that can perfectly care for your child. You can also get a recommendation from your doctor.
Make sure to check out how the center treats and interacts with children to help ease your guilt and help you decide accordingly.
One major thing to remember while being the perfect mother and employee is to stay in the present. Do not squander your energy by thinking about home when you are at work or vice versa. This will drain your energy, and you won’t be able to focus and be your best version either at work or home.
Have an emergency contact
You must have a backup contact in case of emergencies who can urgently pick up your child from the center or school. This can be a provider, caretaker, or family friend you can rely on when things get out of hand, and you are not available to deal with them.
Find yourself a support group
Do not try to be the power mom who doesn’t need help. You are a human, after all, and managing a job, family, and autistic child can take a toll on your overall health. Finding other parents in your shoes can be very helpful because they can advise you on how to deal with a certain situation or behavior you are unprepared for.
However, be careful of the groups that spout off many invalid theories or are harsh critics of mothers. A group is meant to have supportive, informative, and helpful people who can help make this journey a little easier for you, and who knows, you might end up befriending some of the parents.
A child with autism needs constant supervision and support from their parents in order to recover and work on their strengths. Managing your autistic child’s needs with a full-time job can be particularly difficult.
However, all of your child’s needs can be met along with your job if you have flexible working hours, clarity of mind, knowledge of resources, and available care centers for your needs.